COVID-19 symptom severity predicts neutralizing antibody activity in a community-based serological study

Amelia Sancilio*, Joshua M. Schrock, Alexis R. Demonbreun, Richard T. D’Aquila, Brian Mustanski, Lauren A. Vaught, Nina L. Reiser, Matt P. Velez, Ryan R. Hsieh, Daniel T. Ryan, Rana Saber, Elizabeth M. McNally, Thomas W. McDade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies is used to assess their presence in blood samples from exposed individuals and provides a measure of the magnitude of immune response to infection. The measurement of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) in particular provides information about the severity of prior infection and level of protective immunity against re-infection. Much of the work investigating the association between prior infection severity and NAb levels has been conducted among clinical populations, and less is known about this relationship in the general population. Accordingly, we utilize data from a large (n = 790) community-based cohort of unvaccinated, seropositive participants. We analyzed the association between NAb response, measured via surrogate virus neutralization assay, with patterns of symptoms and household exposure. Our results indicate no detectable NAb activity in 63.8% of the seropositive participants (n = 504). Those with detectable NAb levels demonstrated a positive relationship between NAb activity and both self-reported previous symptom severity and household exposure. These findings are significant in light of recent concerns about degree of protective immunity conferred by prior infection or vaccination, and we highlight the value of community-based research for investigating variation in immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12269
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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