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Front Immunol ; 13: 822885, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1834400


Background: Vaccination is considered as most efficient strategy in controlling SARS-CoV-2 pandemic spread. Nevertheless, patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases receiving rituximab (RTX) are at increased risk to fail humoral and cellular responses upon vaccination. The ability to predict vaccination responses is essential to guide adequate safety and optimal protection in these patients. Methods: B- and T- cell data before vaccination were evaluated for characteristics predicting vaccine responses in altogether 15 patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases receiving RTX. Eleven patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on other therapies, 11 kidney transplant recipients (KTR) on regular immunosuppression and 15 healthy controls (HC) served as controls. A multidimensional analysis of B cell subsets via UMAP algorithm and a correlation matrix were performed in order to identify predictive markers of response in patients under RTX therapy. Results: Significant differences regarding absolute B cell counts and specific subset distribution pattern between the groups were identified at baseline. In this context, the majority of B cells from vaccination responders of the RTX group (RTX IgG+) were naïve and transitional B cells, whereas vaccination non-responders (RTX IgG-) carried preferentially plasmablasts and double negative (CD27-IgD-) B cells. Moreover, there was a positive correlation between neutralizing antibodies and B cells expressing HLA-DR and CXCR5 as well as an inverse correlation with CD95 expression and CD21low expression by B cells among vaccination responders. Summary: Substantial repopulation of the naïve B cell compartment after RTX therapy appeared to be essential for an adequate vaccination response, which seem to require the additional capability of antigen presentation and germinal center formation. Moreover, expression of exhaustion markers represent negative predictors of vaccination responses.

Arthritis, Rheumatoid , COVID-19 , Humans , Immunoglobulin G , Rituximab/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination/methods
Arthritis Rheumatol ; 74(6): 934-947, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1589171


OBJECTIVE: Patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases receiving rituximab (RTX) therapy are at higher risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes and show substantially impaired humoral immune response to anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. However, the complex relationship between antigen-specific B cells and T cells and the level of B cell repopulation necessary to achieve anti-vaccine responses remain largely unknown. METHODS: Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and induction of antigen-specific B and CD4/CD8 T cell subsets were studied in 19 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis receiving RTX, 12 patients with RA receiving other therapies, and 30 healthy controls after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination with either messenger RNA or vector-based vaccines. RESULTS: A minimum of 10 B cells per microliter (0.4% of lymphocytes) in the peripheral circulation appeared to be required for RTX-treated patients to mount seroconversion to anti-S1 IgG upon SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. RTX-treated patients who lacked IgG seroconversion showed reduced receptor-binding domain-positive B cells (P = 0.0005), a lower frequency of Tfh-like cells (P = 0.0481), as well as fewer activated CD4 (P = 0.0036) and CD8 T cells (P = 0.0308) compared to RTX-treated patients who achieved IgG seroconversion. Functionally relevant B cell depletion resulted in impaired interferon-γ secretion by spike-specific CD4 T cells (P = 0.0112, r = 0.5342). In contrast, antigen-specific CD8 T cells were reduced in both RA patients and RTX-treated patients, independently of IgG formation. CONCLUSION: In RTX-treated patients, a minimum of 10 B cells per microliter in the peripheral circulation is a candidate biomarker for a high likelihood of an appropriate cellular and humoral response after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Mechanistically, the data emphasize the crucial role of costimulatory B cell functions for the proper induction of CD4 responses propagating vaccine-specific B cell and plasma cell differentiation.

Arthritis, Rheumatoid , COVID-19 , Antibodies, Viral , Arthritis, Rheumatoid/drug therapy , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/therapeutic use , Cell Count , Humans , Immunity, Humoral , Immunoglobulin G , Rituximab/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination/methods
Front Med (Lausanne) ; 8: 748262, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1523725


This longitudinal analysis compares the prevalence of depressive symptoms in patients with psoriatic arthritis in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from a national patient register in Germany were analyzed regarding the Patient Health Questionnaire 2 (PHQ-2) to identify cases suspicious for depression at two time points, i.e., before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only patients with complete concurrent information on the Disease Activity in Psoriatic Arthritis Score (DAPSA) were included in the analysis. The frequency of depressive symptoms in psoriatic arthritis patients during the COVID-19 pandemic did not differ from the prevalence rates measured before. In addition, prevalence rates for depressive symptoms did not differ when stratifying the patient sample for DAPSA levels of disease activity measured before the pandemic. These results were confirmed further in a sensitivity analysis, limiting the second PHQ-2 assessment to lockdown periods only. However, longitudinal data on the prevalence of depressive symptoms in patients with rheumatic diseases, in general, and psoriatic arthritis, in particular, are scarce in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. For a sensible comparison of prevalence rates for depressive symptoms in the future, underlying SARS-CoV-2 infection rates and resulting local healthcare disruptions need to be taken into account, besides the potential use of different depression screening tools to evaluate resulting numbers sensibly and draw corresponding conclusions for patient care.