Mentored Scientist Award

Evaluating the magnitude and durability of the vaccine-induced SARS-CoV-2 immune response in people with and without HIV infection

Headshot of Michael Peluso, MD, MPhil, MHS
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As efforts to prevent COVID-19 through vaccination are implemented in the context of the ongoing pandemic, the most urgent question facing people living with HIV (PLWH) is whether HIV modulates the development and maintenance of vaccine-induced SARS-CoV-2 immunity. In this study, we will leverage samples from the UCSF SCOPE HIV and LIINC SARS-CoV-2 cohorts to measure vaccine-induced COVID-19 immunity in people with and without HIV infection who do not have a prior history of COVID-19. We hypothesize that PLWH will exhibit lower magnitude and less durable humoral and cellular immune responses induced by SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in comparison to those without HIV infection. We further hypothesize that lower CD4+ T cell nadir and concurrent CD4/CD8 ratio will predict less robust responses. To ascertain whether this is the case, we will measure binding and neutralizing antibody levels and measures of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell immunity using intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) and the activation induced marker (AIM) assays in 50 people with HIV and 50 demographically matched people without HIV who have gone SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and are being followed in the LIINC study. We will measure these biological analytes in pre-vaccination samples, an initial memory timeoint (approximately 2-4 months after vaccination) and a late memory time point (approximately 12 months after vaccination). Key training aims include mentorship in HIV and SARS-CoV-2 immunology and increased experience with the design, implementation, analysis, and interpretation of flow cytometric assays. These studies will answer important questions about SARS-CoV-2 immunology in PLWH and prepare the investigator for increased independence as an HIV clinical-translational physician-scientist.