PREPRINT: Efficient recall of Omicron-reactive B cell memory after a third dose of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine

Despite a clear role in protective immunity, the durability and quality of antibody and memory B cell responses induced by mRNA vaccination, particularly by a 3rd dose of vaccine, remains unclear. Here, we examined antibody and memory B cell responses in a cohort of individuals sampled longitudinally for ∼9-10 months after the primary 2-dose mRNA vaccine series, as well as for ∼3 months after a 3rd mRNA vaccine dose. Notably, antibody decay slowed significantly between 6- and 9-months post-primary vaccination, essentially stabilizing at the time of the 3rd dose. Antibody quality also continued to improve for at least 9 months after primary 2-dose vaccination. Spike- and RBD-specific memory B cells were stable through 9 months post-vaccination with no evidence of decline over time, and ∼40-50% of RBD-specific memory B cells were capable of simultaneously recognizing the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants. Omicron-binding memory B cells induced by the first 2 doses of mRNA vaccine were boosted significantly by a 3rd dose and the magnitude of this boosting was similar to memory B cells specific for other variants. Pre-3rd dose memory B cell frequencies correlated with the increase in neutralizing antibody titers after the 3rd dose. In contrast, pre-3rd dose antibody titers inversely correlated with the fold-change of antibody boosting, suggesting that high levels of circulating antibodies may limit reactivation of immunological memory and constrain further antibody boosting by mRNA vaccines. These data provide a deeper understanding of how the quantity and quality of antibody and memory B cell responses change over time and number of antigen exposures. These data also provide insight into potential immune dynamics following recall responses to additional vaccine doses or post-vaccination infections.

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