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1.
JCI Insight ; 2022 Mar 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1765224

ABSTRACT

Transplant recipients exhibit an impaired protective immunity after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, potentially caused by mycophenolate (MPA) immunosuppression. Recent data from autoimmune patients suggest that temporary MPA hold might significantly improve booster vaccination outcomes. We applied a fourth dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to 29 kidney transplant recipients during temporary (5 weeks) MPA (n=28)/azathioprine (n=1) hold, who had not mounted a humoral immune-response to previous vaccinations. Seroconversion until day 32 after vaccination was observed in 76% of patients, associated with acquisition of virus neutralizing capacity. Interestingly, 21/25 (84%) CNI-treated patients responded, but only 1/4 Belatacept-treated patients. In line with humoral responses, counts and relative frequencies of spike receptor binding domain (RBD) specific B cells were significantly increased on day 7 after vaccination, with an increase in RBD specific CD27++CD38+ plasmablasts. Whereas overall proportions of spike-reactive CD4+ T cells remained unaltered after the fourth dose, frequencies were positively correlated with specific IgG levels. Importantly, antigen-specific proliferating Ki67+ and in vivo activated PD1+ T cells significantly increased after re-vaccination during MPA hold, whereas cytokine production and memory differentiation remained unaffected. In summary, antimetabolite hold augmented all arms of immunity during booster vaccination. These data suggest further studies of MMF hold in KTR.

2.
Arthritis Rheumatol ; 2021 Dec 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1589171

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases receiving rituximab (RTX) therapy are at higher risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes and show substantially impaired humoral anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine responses. However, the complex relationship between antigen-specific B 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 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) patients receiving RTX, 12 RA patients on other therapies and 30 healthy controls after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination with either mRNA or vector based vaccines. RESULTS: A minimum of 10 B cells/µL (0,4% of lymphocytes) in the peripheral circulation appeared to be required in RTX patients to mount seroconversion to anti-S1 IgG upon SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. RTX patients lacking IgG seroconversion showed reduced RBD+ B cells, lower frequency of TfH-like cells as well as less activated CD4 and CD8 T cells compared to IgG seroconverted RTX patients. Functionally relevant B cell depletion resulted in impaired IFNγ secretion by spike-specific CD4 T cells. In contrast, antigen-specific CD8 T cells were reduced in patients, independently of IgG formation. CONCLUSIONS: In patients receiving RTX, a minimum of 10 B cells/µl in the peripheral circulation candidates as 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 co-stimulatory B cell functions for the proper induction of CD4 responses propagating vaccine-specific B and plasma cell differentiation.

3.
J Am Soc Nephrol ; 2021 10 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.

4.
Eur J Immunol ; 52(1): 138-148, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1479399

ABSTRACT

The interferon pathway, a key antiviral defense mechanism, is being considered as a therapeutic target in COVID-19. Both, substitution of interferon and JAK/STAT inhibition to limit cytokine storms have been proposed. However, little is known about possible abnormalities in STAT signaling in immune cells during SARS-CoV-2 infection. We investigated downstream targets of interferon signaling, including STAT1, STAT2, pSTAT1 and 2, and IRF1, 7 and 9 by flow cytometry in 30 patients with COVID-19, 17 with mild, and 13 with severe infection. We report upregulation of STAT1 and IRF9 in mild and severe COVID-19 cases, which correlated with the IFN-signature assessed by Siglec-1 (CD169) expression on peripheral monocytes. Interestingly, Siglec-1 and STAT1 in CD14+ monocytes and plasmablasts showed lower expression among severe cases compared to mild cases. Contrary to the baseline STAT1 expression, the phosphorylation of STAT1 was enhanced in severe COVID-19 cases, indicating a dysbalanced JAK/STAT signaling that fails to induce transcription of interferon stimulated response elements (ISRE). This abnormality persisted after IFN-α and IFN-γ stimulation of PBMCs from patients with severe COVID-19. Data suggest impaired STAT1 transcriptional upregulation among severely infected patients may represent a potential predictive biomarker and would allow stratification of patients for certain interferon-pathway targeted treatments.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Monocytes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , STAT1 Transcription Factor/immunology , Signal Transduction/immunology , Up-Regulation/immunology , Adult , Aged , Female , Humans , Interferon Regulatory Factors/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , Patient Acuity , Phosphorylation/immunology
5.
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
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