Trajectories of humoral and cellular immunity and responses to a third dose of mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 in patients with a history of anti-CD20 therapy

RMD Open. 2022 Mar;8(1):e002166. doi: 10.1136/rmdopen-2021-002166.


Background: The majority of patients with B-cell-depleting therapies show compromised vaccination-induced immune responses. Herein, we report on the trajectories of anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in patients of the RituxiVac study compared with healthy volunteers and investigate the immunogenicity of a third vaccination in previously humoral non-responding patients.

Methods: We investigated the humoral and cell-mediated immune response after SARS-CoV-2 messanger RNA vaccination in patients with a history with anti-CD20 therapies. Coprimary outcomes were antispike and SARS-CoV-2-stimulated interferon-γ concentrations in vaccine responders 4.3 months (median; IQR: 3.6-4.8 months) after first evaluation, and humoral and cell-mediated immunity (CMI) after a third vaccine dose in previous humoral non-responders. Immunity decay rates were compared using analysis of covariance in linear regression.

Results: 5.6 months (IQR: 5.1-6.7) after the second vaccination, we detected antispike IgG in 88% (29/33) and CMI in 44% (14/32) of patients with a humoral response after two-dose vaccination compared with 92% (24/26) healthy volunteers with antispike IgG and 69% (11/16) with CMI 6.8 months after the second vaccination (IQR: 6.0-7.1). Decay rates of antibody concentrations were comparable between patients and controls (p=0.70). In two-dose non-responders, a third SARS-CoV-2 vaccine elicited humoral responses in 19% (6/32) and CMI in 32% (10/31) participants.

Conclusion: This study reveals comparable immunity decay rates between patients with anti-CD20 treatments and healthy volunteers, but inefficient humoral or CMI after a third SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in most two-dose humoral non-responders calling for individually tailored vaccination strategies in this population.Trial registration numberNCT04877496; number.

Keywords: COVID-19; rituximab; systemic vasculitis; vaccination.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • Viral Vaccines*
  • mRNA Vaccines


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • Viral Vaccines
  • mRNA Vaccine
  • mRNA Vaccines

Associated data