Immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in three children of parents with symptomatic COVID-19.Nat Commun. 2020 11 11; 11(1):5703.NC
Compared to adults, children with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have predominantly mild or asymptomatic infections, but the underlying immunological differences remain unclear. Here, we describe clinical features, virology, longitudinal cellular, and cytokine immune profile, SARS-CoV-2-specific serology and salivary antibody responses in a family of two parents with PCR-confirmed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and their three children, who tested repeatedly SARS-CoV-2 PCR negative. Cellular immune profiles and cytokine responses of all children are similar to their parents at all timepoints. All family members have salivary anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies detected, predominantly IgA, that coincide with symptom resolution in 3 of 4 symptomatic members. Plasma from both parents and one child have IgG antibody against the S1 protein and virus-neutralizing activity detected. Using a systems serology approach, we demonstrate higher levels of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody features of these family members compared to healthy controls. These data indicate that children can mount an immune response to SARS-CoV-2 without virological confirmation of infection, raising the possibility that immunity in children can prevent the establishment of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Relying on routine virological and serological testing may not identify exposed children, with implications for epidemiological and clinical studies across the life-span.