Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines are detectable in saliva.

TitleAntibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines are detectable in saliva.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsKetas TJ, Chaturbhuj D, Cruz-Portillo VM, Francomano E, Golden E, Chandrasekhar S, Debnath G, Díaz-Tapia R, Yasmeen A, Leconet W, Zhao Z, Brouwer PJM, Cushing MM, Sanders RW, Cupo A, Klasse PJ, Formenti SC, Moore JP
Date Published2021 Mar 11

Vaccines are critical for curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic (1, 2). In the USA, two highly protective mRNA vaccines are available: BNT162b2 from Pfizer/BioNTech and mRNA-1273 from Moderna (3, 4). These vaccines induce antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 S-protein, including neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) predominantly directed against the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) (1-4). Serum NAbs are induced at modest levels within ∼1 week of the first dose, but their titers are strongly boosted by a second dose at 3 (BNT162b2) or 4 weeks (mRNA-1273) (3, 4). SARS-CoV-2 is most commonly transmitted nasally or orally and infects cells in the mucosae of the respiratory and to some extent also the gastrointestinal tract (5). Although serum NAbs may be a correlate of protection against COVID-19, mucosal antibodies might directly prevent or limit virus acquisition by the nasal, oral and conjunctival routes (5). Whether the mRNA vaccines induce mucosal immunity has not been studied. Here, we report that antibodies to the S-protein and its RBD are present in saliva samples from mRNA-vaccinated healthcare workers (HCW). Within 1-2 weeks after their second dose, 37/37 and 8/8 recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, respectively, had S-protein IgG antibodies in their saliva, while IgA was detected in a substantial proportion. These observations may be relevant to vaccine-mediated protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease.

Alternate JournalbioRxiv
PubMed ID33758842
PubMed Central IDPMC7987001
Grant ListR01 AI036082 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
R01 AI100652 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
Related Faculty: 
Melissa Cushing, M.D. Zhen Zhao, Ph.D.


Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 1300 York Avenue New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6464
Surgical Pathology: (212) 746-2700