Protective immune trajectories in early viral containment of non-pneumonic SARS-CoV-2 infection


  • K. Pekayvaz
  • A. Leunig
  • R. Kaiser
  • M. Joppich
  • S. Brambs
  • A. Janjic
  • O. Popp
  • D. Nixdorf
  • V. Fumagalli
  • N. Schmidt
  • V. Polewka
  • A. Anjum
  • V. Knottenberg
  • L. Eivers
  • L.E. Wange
  • C. Gold
  • M. Kirchner
  • M. Muenchhoff
  • J.C. Hellmuth
  • C. Scherer
  • R. Rubio-Acero
  • T. Eser
  • F. Deák
  • K. Puchinger
  • N. Kuhl
  • A. Linder
  • K. Saar
  • L. Tomas
  • C. Schulz
  • A. Wieser
  • W. Enard
  • I. Kroidl
  • C. Geldmacher
  • M. von Bergwelt-Baildon
  • O.T. Keppler
  • M. Munschauer
  • M. Iannacone
  • R. Zimmer
  • P. Mertins
  • N. Hubner
  • M. Hoelscher
  • S. Massberg
  • K. Stark
  • L. Nicolai


  • Nature Communications


  • Nat Commun 13 (1): 1018


  • The antiviral immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection can limit viral spread and prevent development of pneumonic COVID-19. However, the protective immunological response associated with successful viral containment in the upper airways remains unclear. Here, we combine a multi-omics approach with longitudinal sampling to reveal temporally resolved protective immune signatures in non-pneumonic and ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected patients and associate specific immune trajectories with upper airway viral containment. We see a distinct systemic rather than local immune state associated with viral containment, characterized by interferon stimulated gene (ISG) upregulation across circulating immune cell subsets in non-pneumonic SARS-CoV2 infection. We report reduced cytotoxic potential of Natural Killer (NK) and T cells, and an immune-modulatory monocyte phenotype associated with protective immunity in COVID-19. Together, we show protective immune trajectories in SARS-CoV2 infection, which have important implications for patient prognosis and the development of immunomodulatory therapies.