Methotrexate Treatment Suppresses Monocytes in Nonresponders to Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

J Immunol Res. 2022 Jul 28:2022:7561661. doi: 10.1155/2022/7561661. eCollection 2022.


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an increased risk of infections; therefore, immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases is important. Methotrexate (MTX) impairs the antibody response to pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in patients with arthritis, and the underlying mechanism is largely unknown. Here, we investigate the potential role of the innate immune system in the faltering antibody response following PCV vaccination in RA patients treated with MTX. Phenotypes of circulating granulocytes and monocytes were analyzed in 11 RA patients treated with MTX, 13 RA patients without disease-modifying antirheumatic drug treatment (0DMARD), and 13 healthy controls (HC). Peripheral blood samples were collected before and 7 days after vaccination. In addition, the MTX group was sampled before initiating treatment. Frequencies of granulocyte and monocyte subsets were determined using flow cytometry. Serotype-specific IgG were quantified using a multiplex bead assay, pre- and 4-6 weeks after vaccination. At baseline, no differences in granulocyte and monocyte frequencies were observed between the groups. Within the MTX group, the frequency of basophils increased during treatment and was higher compared to the HC and 0DMARD groups at the prevaccination time point. MTX patients were categorized into responders and nonresponders according to the antibody response. Before initiation of MTX, there were no differences in granulocyte and monocyte frequencies between the two subgroups. However, following 6-12 weeks of MTX treatment, both the frequency and concentration of monocytes were lower in PCV nonresponders compared to responders, and the difference in monocyte frequency remained after vaccination. In conclusion, the suppressive effect of MTX on monocyte concentration and frequency could act as a biomarker to identify nonresponders to PCV vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Monocytes
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Conjugate


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Conjugate
  • Methotrexate