Characterization of specific CD8+ T cells
While virus-specific antibodies can prevent the infection of cells, CD8+ T cells are important to neutralize already infected cells due to their cytotoxic properties. An efficient immune response therefore relies on antibodies and cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. However, an exaggerated response of these T cells could damage virus-infected tissues. Therefore, T cell function is tightly regulated, and several mechanisms exist to reduce the inflammatory properties of T cells
Recent data suggest that patients suffering from Covid-19 lung disease show a strong decrease of CD8+ T cells in the blood. The decrease in these T cells may be correlated with disease severity. Our preliminary data suggest that CD8+ T cells from patients with COVID19 show a strong induction of multiple inhibitors on CD8+ T cells, which decrease again after elimination of virus-infected somatic cells.
Goal: We aim to phenotype the expression of these inhibitors on virus-specific CD8+ T cells and investigate how these molecules limit T cell function. In addition, we would like to measure the number and function of these CD8+ T cells over time and investigate whether these cells persist and establish efficient memory after Sars-CoV-2 infection. Only then could these virus-specific T cells in interaction with antibodies protect against reinfection.
Project coordinator: PD Dr. Thomas Jacobs (RG Protozoa Immunology)