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1.
J Am Soc Nephrol ; 2021 Oct 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1566580

ABSTRACT

Background: Accumulating evidence suggests that solid organ transplant recipients, as opposed to the general population, show strongly impaired responsiveness towards standard SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-based vaccination, demanding alternative strategies for protection of this vulnerable group. Methods: In line with recent recommendations, a third dose of either heterologous ChAdOx1 (AstraZeneca) or homologous BNT162b2 (BioNTech) was administered to 25 kidney transplant recipients (KTR) without humoral response after 2 doses of BNT162b2, followed by analysis of serological responses and vaccine-specific B- and T-cell immunity. Results: 9/25 (36%) KTR under standard immunosuppressive treatment seroconverted until day 27 after the third vaccination, while one patient developed severe COVID-19 infection immediately after vaccination. Cellular analysis seven days after the third dose showed significantly elevated frequencies of viral spike protein receptor binding domain specific B cells in humoral responders as compared to non-responders. Likewise, portions of spike-reactive CD4+ T helper cells were significantly elevated in seroconverting patients. Furthermore, overall frequencies of IL-2+, IL-4+ and polyfunctional CD4+ T cells significantly increased after the third dose, whereas memory/effector differentiation remained unaffected. Conclusions: Our data suggest that a fraction of transplant recipients benefits from triple vaccination, where seroconversion is associated with quantitative and qualitative changes of cellular immunity. At the same time, the study highlights that modified vaccination approaches for immunosuppressed patients still remain an urgent medical need.

2.
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 2021 Nov 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546411

ABSTRACT

West Nile Virus (WNV) infections are increasingly detected in birds and horses in central Europe, with a first mosquito-borne autochthonous human infection detected in Germany in 2019. Human infections are typically asymptomatic, with occasional severe neurological disease. Because of a low number of cases in central Europe, awareness regarding potential cases is low and WNV diagnostic is neglected. We tested cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from unsolved encephalitis and meningitis cases from Berlin from 2019 and 2020, and describe a WNV-encephalitis case in a 33-year old kidney transplant recipient. The infectious course was resolved by serology, RT-PCR, and sequencing of stored samples. Phylogenetic sequence analysis revealed a close relationship of the patient's WNV strain to German sequences from 2019 and 2020. A lack of travel history and patient self-isolation during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic suggest the infection was acquired in the patient's home or garden. Serological tests of four people sharing the living space were negative. Retrospective RT-PCR and WNV-IgM testing of 671 CSF samples from unsolved encephalitis and meningitis cases from Berlin detected no additional infections. The recent increase of WNV cases illustrates the importance of considering WNV in cases of meningoencephalitis, especially in immunocompromised patients, as described here. Proper education and communication and a revised diagnostic strategy will help to raise awareness and to detect future WNV infections. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

3.
Sci Immunol ; 6(60)2021 06 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1369380

ABSTRACT

Patients with kidney failure are at increased risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection making effective vaccinations a critical need. It is not known how well mRNA vaccines induce B and plasma cell responses in dialysis patients (DP) or kidney transplant recipients (KTR) compared to healthy controls (HC). We studied humoral and B cell responses of 35 HC, 44 DP and 40 KTR. Markedly impaired anti-BNT162b2 responses were identified among KTR and DP compared to HC. In DP, the response was delayed (3-4 weeks after boost) and reduced with anti-S1 IgG and IgA positivity in 70.5% and 68.2%, respectively. In contrast, KTR did not develop IgG responses except one patient who had a prior unrecognized infection and developed anti-S1 IgG. The majority of antigen-specific B cells (RBD+) were identified in the plasmablast or post-switch memory B cell compartments in HC, whereas RBD+ B cells were enriched among pre-switch and naïve B cells from DP and KTR. The frequency and absolute number of antigen-specific circulating plasmablasts in the cohort correlated with the Ig response, a characteristic not reported for other vaccinations. In conclusion, these data indicated that immunosuppression resulted in impaired protective immunity after mRNA vaccination, including Ig induction with corresponding generation of plasmablasts and memory B cells. Thus, there is an urgent need to improve vaccination protocols in patients after kidney transplantation or on chronic dialysis.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunocompromised Host , Kidney Transplantation , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunity, Humoral/drug effects , Immunity, Humoral/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , Renal Dialysis , SARS-CoV-2 , Transplant Recipients
4.
Front Immunol ; 12: 690698, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1317227

ABSTRACT

Patients with kidney failure have notoriously weak responses to common vaccines. Thus, immunogenicity of novel SARS-CoV-2 vaccines might be impaired in this group. To determine immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in patients with chronic dialysis, we analyzed the humoral and T-cell response after two doses of mRNA vaccine Tozinameran (BNT162b2 BioNTech/Pfizer). This observational study included 43 patients on dialysis before vaccination with two doses of Tozinameran 21 days apart. Overall, 36 patients completed the observation period until three weeks after the second dose and 32 patients were further analyzed at week 10. Serum samples were analyzed by SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG and IgA antibodies ~1, ~3-4 and ~10 weeks after the second vaccination. In addition, SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses were assessed at ~3-4 weeks by an interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA). Antibody and T cell outcomes at this timepoint were compared to a group of 44 elderly patients not on dialysis, after immunization with Tozinameran. Median age of patients on chronic dialysis was 74.0 years (IQR 66.0, 82.0). The proportion of males was higher (69.4%) than females. Only 20/36 patients (55.6%, 95%CI: 38.29-71.67) developed SARS-CoV-2-IgG antibodies at the first sampling, whereas 32/36 patients (88.9%, 95%CI: 73.00-96.38) demonstrated IgG detection at the second sampling. In a longitudinal follow-up at ~10 weeks after the second dose, the proportion of dialysis patients reactive for anti-SARS-CoV-2-IgG decreased to 27/32 (84.37%, 95%CI: 66.46-94.10) The proportion of anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1 IgA decreased from 33/36 (91.67%; 95%CI: 76.41-97.82) at weeks 3-4 down to 19/32 (59.38; 95%CI: 40.79-75.78). Compared to a cohort of vaccinees with similar age but not on chronic dialysis seroconversion rates and antibody titers were significantly lower. SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses 3 weeks after second vaccination were detected in 21/31 vaccinated dialysis patients (67.7%, 95%CI: 48.53-82.68) compared to 42/44 (93.3%, 95%CI: 76.49-98.84) in controls of similar age. Patients on dialysis demonstrate a delayed, but robust immune response three to four weeks after the second dose, which indicates effective vaccination of this vulnerable group. However, the lower immunogenicity of Tozinameran in these patients needs further attention to develop potential countermeasures such as an additional booster vaccination.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Renal Dialysis , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vaccination/methods , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/virology , Female , Follow-Up Studies , Humans , Immunity , Immunoglobulin A/blood , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology
5.
J Clin Invest ; 131(14)2021 07 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1311203

ABSTRACT

Novel mRNA-based vaccines have been proven to be powerful tools in combating the global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, with BNT162b2 (trade name: Comirnaty) efficiently protecting individuals from COVID-19 across a broad age range. Still, it remains largely unknown how renal insufficiency and immunosuppressive medication affect development of vaccine-induced immunity. We therefore comprehensively analyzed humoral and cellular responses in kidney transplant recipients after the standard second vaccination dose. As opposed to all healthy vaccinees and the majority of hemodialysis patients, only 4 of 39 and 1 of 39 transplanted individuals showed IgA and IgG seroconversion at day 8 ± 1 after booster immunization, with minor changes until day 23 ± 5, respectively. Although most transplanted patients mounted spike-specific T helper cell responses, frequencies were significantly reduced compared with those in controls and dialysis patients and this was accompanied by a broad impairment in effector cytokine production, memory differentiation, and activation-related signatures. Spike-specific CD8+ T cell responses were less abundant than their CD4+ counterparts in healthy controls and hemodialysis patients and almost undetectable in transplant patients. Promotion of anti-HLA antibodies or acute rejection was not detected after vaccination. In summary, our data strongly suggest revised vaccination approaches in immunosuppressed patients, including individual immune monitoring for protection of this vulnerable group at risk of developing severe COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Kidney Transplantation/adverse effects , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Viral/biosynthesis , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Case-Control Studies , Cohort Studies , Cytokines/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunity, Cellular , Immunity, Humoral , Immunization, Secondary , Immunoglobulin A/biosynthesis , Immunoglobulin G/biosynthesis , Immunologic Memory , Immunosuppressive Agents/adverse effects , Lymphocyte Activation , Male , Middle Aged , Monitoring, Immunologic , Renal Dialysis/adverse effects , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Transplantation Immunology
6.
J Nephrol ; 34(4): 1025-1037, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1296981

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Recent data demonstrate potentially protective pre-existing T cells reactive against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in samples of healthy blood donors, collected before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Whether pre-existing immunity is also detectable in immunosuppressed patients is currently not known. METHODS: Fifty-seven patients were included in this case-control study. We compared the frequency of SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells in the samples of 20 renal transplant (RTx) patients to 20 age/gender matched non-immunosuppressed/immune competent healthy individuals collected before the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Seventeen coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients were used as positive controls. T cell reactivity against Spike-, Nucleocapsid-, and Membrane- SARS-CoV-2 proteins were analyzed by multi-parameter flow cytometry. Antibodies were analyzed by neutralization assay. RESULTS: Pre-existing SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells were detected in the majority of unexposed patients and healthy individuals. In RTx patients, 13/20 showed CD4+ T cells reactive against at least one SARS-CoV-2 protein. CD8+ T cells reactive against at least one SARS-CoV-2 protein were demonstrated in 12/20 of RTx patients. The frequency and Th1 cytokine expression pattern of pre-formed SARS-CoV-2 reactive T cells did not differ between RTx and non-immunosuppressed healthy individuals. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that the magnitude and functionality of pre-existing SARS-CoV-2 reactive T cell in transplant patients is non-inferior compared to the immune competent cohort. Although several pro-inflammatory cytokines were produced by the detected T cells, further studies are required to prove their antiviral protection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Kidney Transplantation , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Case-Control Studies , Humans , Kidney Transplantation/adverse effects , SARS-CoV-2
8.
Transplant Proc ; 53(4): 1245-1248, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1030237

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Transplant recipients are prone to developing severe infections because of immunosuppression. Therefore, studying the manifestation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in transplant recipients is of particular importance. METHODS: One hundred twelve transplant patients consecutively visiting the outpatient department of 2 German transplant centers were included in this study after providing written informed consent. The patients were interviewed about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms and history. Nasopharyngeal swabs were analyzed by SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgA were measured concomitantly in patient sera by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS: The risk of severe COVID-19 according to 2 recent scores differed among the analyzed patients. All patients were well educated about their presumed higher risk of a severe COVID-19 and described performing self-isolation wherever possible. Nevertheless, 20 patients reported contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19 or who tested positive shortly thereafter (18%). Despite this relatively high exposure, no clinically relevant case of COVID-19 was reported. Though SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgA were found in 3 patients (3%); 2 patients were asymptomatic and only 1 had mild COVID-19 symptoms and positive RT-PCR 4 weeks earlier. There were no occult SARS-CoV-2 infections, as demonstrated by negative PCR tests. CONCLUSION: Despite the high exposure level, the incidence of COVID-19 remained very low. Because of the differences in COVID-19 risk, balancing risk exposure and quality of life should be recommended.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , Transplant Recipients/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Immunoglobulin A/blood , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Male , Middle Aged , Organ Transplantation , Prevalence , RNA, Viral/analysis , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
9.
J Clin Med ; 9(11)2020 Oct 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-895373

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 denotes a global health issue. Data regarding COVID-19 incidence in kidney transplant recipients (KTR) are sparse. From 19 March to 19 May 2020, we performed a systematic screening for COVID-19 in KTR. Tests included serum analysis for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using S protein-based immunofluorescence, anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1 immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin A (IgA) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), and/or quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) from nasal-throat swabs. Outpatient serum samples from KTR with PCR confirmed COVID-19, and swab samples from recipients (+donors) undergoing kidney transplantation were analyzed. Out of 223 samples from outpatients, 13 patients were positive with solely anti-SARS-CoV-2-IgA and 3 with both anti-IgA and anti-IgG. In total, 53 patients were symptomatic in the past, but positive results could be found in both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. After an in depth analysis using immunofluorescence and neutralization tests in 2 KTR, recent COVID-19 infection remained highly suspicious. Apart from outpatient visits, only 5 out of 2044 KTR were symptomatic and tested positive via PCR, of which 4 recovered and one died. All patients showed seroconversion during the course of the disease. This study demonstrated a low seroprevalence in a German KTR cohort, and seroconversion of IgA and IgG after COVID-19 could be demonstrated. Effective containment strategies enabled us to continue our transplant program.

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