Transplant recipients exhibit an impaired protective immunity after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, potentially caused by mycophenolate (MPA) immunosuppression. Recent data from patients with autoimmune disorders suggest that temporary MPA hold might greatly improve booster vaccination outcomes. We applied a fourth dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to 29 kidney transplant recipients during a temporary (5 weeks) MPA/azathioprine hold, who had not mounted a humoral immune response to previous vaccinations. Seroconversion until day 32 after vaccination was observed in 76% of patients, associated with acquisition of virus-neutralizing capacity. Interestingly, 21/25 (84%) calcineurin inhibitor–treated patients responded, but only 1/4 belatacept-treated patients responded. In line with humoral responses, counts and relative frequencies of spike receptor binding domain–specific (RBD-specific) B cells were markedly increased on day 7 after vaccination, with an increase in RBD-specific CD27++CD38+ plasmablasts. Whereas overall proportions of spike-reactive CD4+ T cells remained unaltered after the fourth dose, frequencies were positively correlated with specific IgG levels. Importantly, antigen-specific proliferating Ki67+ and in vivo–activated programmed cell death 1–positive T cells significantly increased after revaccination during MPA hold, whereas cytokine production and memory differentiation remained unaffected. In summary, antimetabolite hold augmented all arms of immunity during booster vaccination. These data suggest further studies of antimetabolite hold in kidney transplant recipients.
Eva Schrezenmeier, Hector Rincon-Arevalo, Annika Jens, Ana-Luisa Stefanski, Charlotte Hammett, Bilgin Osmanodja, Nadine Koch, Bianca Zukunft, Julia Beck, Michael Oellerich, Vanessa Proß, Carolin Stahl, Mira Choi, Friederike Bachmann, Lutz Liefeldt, Petra Glander, Ekkehard Schütz, Kirsten Bornemann-Kolatzki, Covadonga López del Moral, Hubert Schrezenmeier, Carolin Ludwig, Bernd Jahrsdörfer, Kai-Uwe Eckardt, Nils Lachmann, Katja Kotsch, Thomas Dörner, Fabian Halleck, Arne Sattler, Klemens Budde