Competent immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 variants in older adults following two doses of mRNA vaccination

Mladen Jergović, Jennifer L. Uhrlaub, Makiko Watanabe, Christine M. Bradshaw, Lisa M. White, Bonnie J. LaFleur, Taylor Edwards, Ryan Sprissler, Michael Worobey, Deepta Bhattacharya, Janko Nikolich-Žugich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Aging is associated with a reduced magnitude of primary immune responses to vaccination. mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have shown efficacy in older adults but virus variant escape is still unclear. Here we analyze humoral and cellular immunity against an early-pandemic viral isolate and compare that to the P.1 (Gamma) and B.1.617.2 (Delta) variants in two cohorts (<50 and >55 age) of mRNA vaccine recipients. We further measure neutralizing antibody titers for B.1.617.1 (Kappa) and B.1.595, with the latter SARS-CoV-2 isolate bearing the spike mutation E484Q. Robust humoral immunity is measured following second vaccination, and older vaccinees manifest cellular immunity comparable to the adult group against early-pandemic SARS-CoV-2 and more recent variants. More specifically, the older cohort has lower neutralizing capacity at 7-14 days following the second dose but equilibrates with the younger cohort after 2-3 months. While long-term vaccination responses remain to be determined, our results implicate vaccine-induced protection in older adults against SARS-CoV-2 variants and inform thinking about boost vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2891
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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