Disease- and Therapy-Specific Impact on Humoral Immune Responses to COVID-19 Vaccination in Hematologic Malignancies

Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep 13;2(6):568-576. doi: 10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-21-0139. eCollection 2021 Nov.


Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccine response data for patients with hematologic malignancy, who carry high risk for severe COVID-19 illness, are incomplete. In a study of 551 hematologic malignancy patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike IgG titers and neutralizing activity were measured at 1 and 3 months from initial vaccination. Compared with healthy controls, patients with hematologic malignancy had attenuated antibody titers at 1 and 3 months. Furthermore, patients with hematologic malignancy had markedly diminished neutralizing capacity of 26.3% at 1 month and 43.6% at 3 months, despite positive seroconversion rates of 51.5% and 68.9% at the respective time points. Healthy controls had 93.2% and 100% neutralizing capacity at 1 and 3 months, respectively. Patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma on observation had uniformly blunted responses. Treatment with Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors, venetoclax, phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitors, anti-CD19/CD20-directed therapies, and anti-CD38/B-cell maturation antigen-directed therapies substantially hindered responses, but single-agent immunomodulatory agents did not.

Significance: Patients with hematologic malignancy have compromised COVID-19 vaccine responses at baseline that are further suppressed by active therapy, with many patients having insufficient neutralizing capacity despite positive antibody titers. Refining vaccine response parameters is critical to guiding clinical care, including the indication for booster vaccines, for this vulnerable population.See related article by Tamari et al., p. 577. This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 549.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • BNT162 Vaccine