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Humoral immune responses and neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2; implications in pathogenesis and protective immunity.

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Background: The magnitude and the quality of humoral responses against SARS-CoV-2 have been associated with clinical outcome. Although the elicitation of humoral responses against different viral proteins is rapid and occurs in most infected individuals, its magnitude is highly variable among them and positively correlates with COVID-19 disease severity. This rapid response is characterized by the almost concomitant appearance of virus-specific IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies that contain neutralizing antibodies directed against different epitopes of the Spike glycoprotein. Of particularly interest, the antibodies against domain of the Spike that interacts with the cellular receptor ACE2, known as the receptor binding domain (RBD), are present in most infected individuals and are block viral entry and infectivity. Such neutralizing antibodies protect different animal species when administered before virus exposure; therefore, its elicitation is the main target of current vaccine approaches and their clinical use as recombinant monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) is being explored. Yet, little information exists on the duration of humoral responses during natural infection. This is a key issue that will impact the management of the pandemic and determine the utility of seroconversion studies and the level of herd immunity. Certainly, several cases of reinfection have been reported, suggesting that immunity could be transient, as reported for other coronaviruses. In summary, although the kinetics of the generation of antibodies against SASR-CoV-2 and their protective activity have been clearly defined, their role in COVID-19 pathogenesis and the length of these responses are still open questions.

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