Asplund Högelin K, Ruffin N, Pin E, Hober S, Nilsson P, Starvaggi Cucuzza C, Khademi M, Olsson T, Piehl F, Al Nimer F
Eur J Neurol 29 (11) 3317-3328 [2022-11-00; online 2022-07-20]
Recent findings document a blunted humoral response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in patients on anti-CD20 treatment. Although most patients develop a cellular response, it is still important to identify predictors of seroconversion to optimize vaccine responses. We determined antibody responses after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in a real-world cohort of multiple sclerosis patients (n = 94) treated with anti-CD20, mainly rituximab, with variable treatment duration (median = 2.9, range = 0.4-9.6 years) and time from last anti-CD20 infusion to vaccination (median = 190, range = 60-1032 days). We find that presence of B cells and/or rituximab in blood predict seroconversion better than time since last infusion. Using multiple logistic regression, presence of >0.5% B cells increased probability of seroconversion with an odds ratio (OR) of 5.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.0-28.1, p = 0.055), whereas the corresponding OR for ≥6 months since last infusion was 1.45 (95% CI = 0.20-10.15, p = 0.705). In contrast, detectable rituximab levels were negatively associated with seroconversion (OR = 0.05, 95% CI = 0.002-0.392, p = 0.012). Furthermore, naïve and memory IgG+ B cells correlated with antibody levels. Although retreatment with rituximab at 4 weeks or more after booster depleted spike-specific B cells, it did not noticeably affect the rate of decline in antibody titers. Interferon-γ and/or interleukin-13 T-cell responses to the spike S1 domain were observed in most patients, but with no correlation to spike antibody levels. These findings are relevant for providing individualized guidance to patients and planning of vaccination schemes, in turn optimizing benefit-risk with anti-CD20.