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Patients with B-cell specific immunocompromise still mount T-cell specific responses to SARS-CoV-2 in response to mRNA vaccination

Paper Title:

Cellular and humoral immune responses following SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination in patients with multiple sclerosis on anti-CD20 therapy



SARS-CoV-2 messenger RNA vaccination in healthy individuals generates immune protection against COVID-19. However, little is known about SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine-induced responses in immunosuppressed patients. We investigated induction of antigen-specific antibody, B cell and T cell responses longitudinally in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) on anti-CD20 antibody monotherapy (n = 20) compared with healthy controls (n = 10) after BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 mRNA vaccination. Treatment with anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (aCD20) significantly reduced spike-specific and receptor-binding domain (RBD)-specific antibody and memory B cell responses in most patients, an effect ameliorated with longer duration from last aCD20 treatment and extent of B cell reconstitution. By contrast, all patients with MS treated with aCD20 generated antigen-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses after vaccination. Treatment with aCD20 skewed responses, compromising circulating follicular helper T (TFH) cell responses and augmenting CD8 T cell induction, while preserving type 1 helper T (TH1) cell priming. Patients with MS treated with aCD20 lacking anti-RBD IgG had the most severe defect in circulating TFH responses and more robust CD8 T cell responses. These data define the nature of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-induced immune landscape in aCD20-treated patients and provide insights into coordinated mRNA vaccine-induced immune responses in humans. Our findings have implications for clinical decision-making and public health policy for immunosuppressed patients including those treated with aCD20.

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