New research, published in Frontiers in Immunology and conducted by the Tisch Multiple Sclerosis Research Center of New York, has found that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients receiving anti-CD20 therapy saw strong T-cell activation after receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Anti-CD20 therapies cause B-cell depletion, and MS patients receiving these therapies are considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their lower production of antibodies. This research advances the analysis of T-cell responses, particularly for MS patients, and underscores the larger need to better understand T-cell responses among immunocompromised individuals. Further research advancements may have potential implications for future vaccine designs and applications.
In a group of 43 MS patients receiving anti-CD20 therapy, the study analyzed the humoral and cellular responses to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines during the first six months after receiving the vaccines. Their responses were compared to those of a healthy control cohort of 34 individuals. After receiving both vaccine doses, MS patients saw a seroconversion rate, measuring the development of antibodies in the blood serum, of only 23.8%.
However, the study found strong T-cell activation across MS patients, with no difference in T-cell response regardless of the patient’s form of MS (relapsing remitting versus progressive MS), anti-CD20 therapy administered (Rituximab versus Ocrelizumab), and the type of mRNA-based vaccine received (Pfizer versus Moderna).
Additionally, even with subjects who had severe B-cell depletion and failed seroconversion, the study found significantly higher SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific T-cell cytokine release and strong T-cell proliferation capacity compared to controls. Consequently, the study’s findings suggest that the vaccine may generate a partially adaptive immune response, driven by a functionally competent T-cell arm, in MS patients with B-cell depletion.Read the full release on Businesswire