Antigen-specific antibody responses in lupus patients following immunization

Arthritis Rheum. 1998 Oct;41(10):1828-34. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(199810)41:10<1828::AID-ART15>3.0.CO;2-T.


Objective: To determine the safety and efficacy of 3 clinically relevant vaccines in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: We studied 73 consecutive SLE patients immunized with pneumococcal, tetanus toxoid (TT), and Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) vaccines. Patients were evaluated preimmunization and 12 weeks postimmunization for disease activity and immunization side effects.

Results: Eighty-four percent of the SLE patients developed a 4-fold titer increase in response to at least 1 vaccine, with 51% developing a 2-fold titer increase with all 3 vaccines. The majority of SLE patients developed protective levels of antibody to TT (90%) and HIB (88%). Although protective antibody levels could not be determined for pneumococcus, almost half of the patients (47%) developed a 4-fold antibody response. There was a trend toward a lower antibody response in patients with active disease treated with immunosuppressive therapy. Overall lupus disease activity was unaffected by immunization.

Conclusion: Immunization is safe in SLE patients, with the overwhelming majority developing protective antibody levels. Therefore, SLE patients should receive immunizations according to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects
  • Azathioprine / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacology
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Haemophilus Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunization* / adverse effects
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / pharmacology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / immunology
  • Tetanus Toxoid / administration & dosage


  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Epitopes
  • Haemophilus Vaccines
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Azathioprine
  • Prednisone