Humoral and T-Cell Response to SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Treated with Ocrelizumab

Livnat Brill, Ariel Rechtman, Omri Zveik, Nitzan Haham, Esther Oiknine-Djian, Dana G. Wolf, Netta Levin, Catarina Raposo, Adi Vaknin-Dembinsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Importance: B-cell-depleting therapies may affect the development of a protective immune response following vaccination. Understanding the ability to develop vaccine-specific immunity to COVID-19 in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) treated with B-cell-depleting therapy is of importance for clinical decisions. Objective: To assess SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-specific humoral and cellular responses in patients treated with ocrelizumab compared with healthy controls. Design, Setting, and Participants: This single-center study performed at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, included patients with MS treated with ocrelizumab, healthy controls, and untreated patients with MS. Vaccination occurred between December 2020 and April 2021. Participants donated blood 2 to 4 and 2 to 8 weeks after the second vaccine dose for antibody and T-cell assessments, respectively. Exposures: All participants received 2 doses of BNT162b2 vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech) and completed the study. Main Outcomes and Measures: Proportion of patients treated with ocrelizumab with SARS-CoV-2-specific serology and/or T-cell responses following vaccination. All participants underwent SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing; 29 patients treated with ocrelizumab and 15 healthy controls had evaluation of SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses. Results: Of 112 participants, 49 (43.8%) had MS and were treated with ocrelizumab (33 [67.3%] female; mean [SD] age, 47.9 [13.3] years), 23 (20.5%) had MS and were not treated with disease-modifying therapies (18 [78.3%] female; mean [SD] age, 49 [13.4] years), and 40 (35.7%) were healthy controls (25 [62.5%] female; mean [SD] age, 45.3 [16] years). Twenty-six of 29 patients (89.7%) treated with ocrelizumab and 15 of 15 healthy controls (100%) had SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells following vaccination at similar levels (mean [SD], 15.4 [7.6] and 14.3 [6.3] spot-forming cells, respectively). Mean antibody titers and positive serology rate were lower in the group of patients treated with ocrelizumab (mean [SD] antibody titers and positive serology rate, 26.2 [49.2] and 376.5 [907.6] AU/mL; 10 of 40 [25%] and 20 of 49 [40.8%] for S1/S2 and receptor-binding domain, respectively) compared with healthy controls (mean [SD] antibody titers and positive serology rate, 283 [100] and 12712 [9114] AU/mL; 100% S1/S2 and receptor-binding domain) and untreated patients (mean [SD] antibody titers and positive serology rate, 288.3 [113.8] and 10877 [9476] AU/mL; 100% S1/S2 and receptor-binding domain), with positive association to time from ocrelizumab infusion (S1/S2: r = 0.7, P <.001; receptor-binding domain: r = 0.4, P =.04). Conclusion and Relevance: In this study, patients with MS who were treated with ocrelizumab generated comparable SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses with healthy controls and had lower antibody response following vaccination. Given the potential role of T cells in protection from severe disease, this is reassuring and will help physicians develop consensus guidelines regarding MS treatment in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic..

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1510-1514
Number of pages5
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
employee and shareholder of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. Dr Vaknin-Dembinsky reported grants from F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd during the conduct of the study; personal fees from Roche, Biogen, Genzyme Sanofi, Merck, and Novartis outside the submitted work; and grants from Merck and the Ministry of Health of Israel outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.


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