A third dose SARS‑CoV‑2 BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine results in improved immune response in hemodialysis patients
Background: The hemodialysis (HD) population has been a vulnerable group during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Advanced chronic kidney disease with uremia is associated with weaker immune response to infections and an attenuated response to vaccines. The aim of this study was to study the humoral and cellular response to the second and third doses of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in HD patients and to follow the response over time.
Methods: The patients received their first two vaccine doses from 28 December 2020 within a 4-week interval and the third dose in September 2021 and were followed-up for humoral and cellular immune response at 1) 7–15 weeks and 2) 6–8 months after dose two (no t-cell reactivity measured), and 3) 3 weeks and 4) 3 months after dose three. Fifty patients were initially enrolled, and 40 patients were followed during the entire study. Levels of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) IgG antibody against the Spike antigen (anti-S) and T-cell reactivity testing against the Spike protein using Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot (ELISPOT) technology were evaluated.
Results: IgG antibodies to anti-S were detected in 35 (88%) of the 40 patients 7–15 weeks after vaccine dose two, 31 (78%) were positive, and 4 (10%) borderline. The median anti-S titer was 606 Abbott Units/milliliter (AU/mL) (interquartile range [IQR] 134–1,712). Three months after the third dose, anti-S was detected in 38 (95%) of 40 patients (P < 0.01 compared to after dose two), and the median anti-S titer was 9,910 AU/mL (IQR 2,325–26,975). Cellular reactivity was detected in 22 (55%), 34 (85%), and 28 (71%) of the 40 patients, and the median T-cell response was 9.5 (IQR 3.5–80), 51.5 (14.8–132), and 19.5 (8.8–54.2) units, respectively, for 6–8 months after dose two, 3 weeks, and 3 months after dose three.
Conclusions: Our data show that a third dose of SARS‑CoV‑2 BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine gives a robust and improved immunological response in HD patients, but a few patients did not develop any anti-S response during the entire study, indicating the importance to monitor the vaccine response since those who do not respond could now be given monoclonal antibodies if they contract a COVID-19 infection or in the future antivirals.
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