Antibody responses to endemic coronaviruses modulate COVID-19 convalescent plasma functionality

William Morgenlander, Stephanie Henson, Daniel R. Monaco, Athena Chen, Kirsten Littlefield, Evan M. Bloch, Eric Fujimura, Ingo Ruczinski, Andrew R. Crowley, Harini Natarajan, Savannah E. Butler, Joshua A. Weiner, Mamie Z. Li, Tania S. Bonny, Sarah E. Benner, Ashwin Balagopal, David Sullivan, Shmuel Shoham, Thomas C. Quinn, Susan EshlemanArturo Casadevall, Andrew D. Redd, Oliver Laeyendecker, Margaret E. Ackerman, Andrew Pekosz, Stephen J. Elledge, Matthew Robinson, Aaron A.R. Tobian, H. Benjamin Larman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


COVID-19 convalescent plasma, particularly plasma with high-titer SARS-CoV-2 (CoV2) antibodies, is one of the leading treatments for individuals with early COVID-19 infection. The functionality of convalescent plasma varies greatly, but the association of antibody epitope specificities with plasma functionality remains uncharacterized. We assessed antibody functionality and reactivities to peptides across the CoV2 and the four endemic human coronavirus (HCoV) genomes in 126 COVID-19 convalescent plasma donations. We found strong correlation between plasma functionality and polyclonal antibody targeting of CoV2 spike protein peptides. Antibody reactivity to many HCoV spike peptides also displayed strong correlation with plasma functionality, including pan-coronavirus cross-reactive epitopes located in a conserved region of the fusion peptide. After accounting for antibody cross-reactivity, we identified an association between greater alphacoronavirus NL63 antibody responses and development of highly neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. We also found that plasma preferentially reactive to the CoV2 spike receptor binding domain (RBD), versus the betacoronavirus HKU1 RBD, had higher neutralizing titer. Finally, we developed a two-peptide serosignature that identifies plasma donations with high anti-spike titer, but that suffer from low neutralizing activity. These results suggest that analysis of coronavirus antibody fine specificities may be useful for selecting therapeutic plasma with desired functionalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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