Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination are impaired in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) under anti-CD20 therapies. It is however unclear, whether patients who received the basic immunization prior to anti-B cell medication start respond to the COVID-19 booster dose, once B cells are depleted.
To investigate the humoral response to recall antigen by COVID-19 booster vaccines in people with MS (pwMS), who recently started an anti-CD20 therapy compared to people with long-term B cell depletion.
We enrolled 15 pwMS who had received booster vaccination on anti-CD20 therapy. Of these, 11 had established anti-CD20 medications and were therefore vaccinated during a continuous state of B cell depletion (CD20-vaccine cohort). Four pwMS had received the basic immunization prior to anti-CD20 therapy commencement and only the booster dose (vaccine-CD20-vaccine cohort) under conditions of B cell depletion. We assessed SARS-CoV-2 specific antibody responses after booster vaccination among both groups and evaluated accompanying B cell numbers and proportions from the peripheral circulation.
The booster dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination elicited measurable antibody responses in 18% of individuals from the CD20-vaccine cohort compared to 100% from the vaccine-CD20-vaccine cohort. Antibody-levels were significantly higher among patients from the vaccine-CD20-vaccine cohort compared to the CD20-vaccine cohort (mean 951.25 ± 1137.96 BAU/ml, vs mean 12.36 ± 11.94 BAU/ml; mean difference 938 BAU/ml (95% CI: 249-1629 BAU/ml), p <0.0001). Among the vaccine-CD20-vaccine cohort, the booster immunization led to augmentation of spike antibody levels in 75% despite concomitant B cell depletion, and values increased by 3.8 - 9.4-fold compared to basic immunization. We observed no correlation of B cell kinetics and SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels.
Our study suggests that antibody production to recall COVID-19 antigens is preserved in pwMS despite concomitant anti-CD20 therapy. If corroborated in bigger cohorts, this could have implications in the management of individuals about to start B cell medications.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Multiple Sclerosis*/drug therapy
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