T follicular helper cells and the germinal centre are required for memory B cell formation and humoral immunity after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination

Emergence from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has been facilitated by the rollout of effective vaccines. Successful vaccines generate high-affinity plasma blasts and long-lived protective memory B cells. Here, we show a requirement for T follicular helper (Tfh) cells and the germinal center reaction for optimal serum antibody and memory B cell formation after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination. We found that Tfh cells play an important role in expanding antigen-specific B cells while identifying Tfh-cell-dependent and -independent memory B cell subsets. Upon secondary vaccination, germinal center B cells generated during primary immunizations can be recalled as germinal center B cells again. Likewise, primary immunization GC-Tfh cells can be recalled as either Tfh or Th1 cells, highlighting the pluripotent nature of Tfh cell memory. This study demonstrates that ChAdOx1 nCoV-19-induced germinal centers are a critical source of humoral immunity.

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