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Title: Immune and pathophysiologic profiling of antenatal coronavirus disease 2019 in the GIFT cohort: A Singaporean case-control study
Authors: Gu, Yue
Low, Jia Ming 
Tan, Jolene Su Yi
Ng, Melissa Shu Feng
Ng, Lisa FP
Shunmuganathan, Bhuvaneshwari 
Gupta, Rashi 
MacAry, Paul AA 
Amin, Zubair 
Lee, Le Ye 
Lian, Derrick 
Shek, Lynette Pei-Chi 
Zhong, Youjia 
Wang, Liang Wei
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2
antenatal COVID-19
transplacental antibody transfer
breast milk antibodies
placental inflammation
Issue Date: 15-Sep-2022
Citation: Gu, Yue, Low, Jia Ming, Tan, Jolene Su Yi, Ng, Melissa Shu Feng, Ng, Lisa FP, Shunmuganathan, Bhuvaneshwari, Gupta, Rashi, MacAry, Paul AA, Amin, Zubair, Lee, Le Ye, Lian, Derrick, Shek, Lynette Pei-Chi, Zhong, Youjia, Wang, Liang Wei (2022-09-15). Immune and pathophysiologic profiling of antenatal coronavirus disease 2019 in the GIFT cohort: A Singaporean case-control study. FRONTIERS IN PEDIATRICS 10. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: COVID-19 can be severe in pregnant women, and have adverse consequences for the subsequent infant. We profiled the post-infectious immune responses in maternal and child blood as well as breast milk in terms of antibody and cytokine expression and performed histopathological studies on placentae obtained from mothers convalescent from antenatal COVID-19. Seventeen mother-child dyads (8 cases of antenatal COVID-19 and 9 healthy unrelated controls; 34 individuals in total) were recruited to the Gestational Immunity For Transfer (GIFT) study. Maternal and infant blood, and breast milk samples were collected over the first year of life. All samples were analyzed for IgG and IgA against whole SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the spike receptor-binding domain (RBD), and previously reported immunodominant epitopes, as well as cytokine levels. The placentae were examined microscopically. The study is registered at under the identifier NCT04802278. We found high levels of virus-specific IgG in convalescent mothers and similarly elevated titers in newborn children. Thus, antenatal SARS-CoV-2 infection led to high plasma titers of virus-specific antibodies in infants postnatally. However, this waned within 3–6 months of life. Virus neutralization by plasma was not uniformly achieved, and the presence of antibodies targeting known immunodominant epitopes did not assure neutralization. Virus-specific IgA levels were variable among convalescent individuals’ sera and breast milk. Antibody transfer ratios and the decay of transplacentally transferred virus-specific antibodies in neonatal circulation resembled that for other pathogens. Convalescent mothers showed signs of chronic inflammation marked by persistently elevated IL17RA levels in their blood. Four placentae presented signs of acute inflammation, particularly in the subchorionic region, marked by neutrophil infiltration even though > 50 days had elapsed between virus clearance and delivery. Administration of a single dose of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine to mothers convalescent from antenatal COVID-19 increased virus-specific IgG and IgA titers in breast milk, highlighting the importance of receiving the vaccine even after natural infection with the added benefit of enhanced passive immunity.
ISSN: 2296-2360
DOI: 10.3389/fped.2022.949756
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