Immune responses in people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) receiving disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) have been of significant interest throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Lymphocyte-targeting immunotherapies, including anti-CD20 treatments and sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor (S1PR) modulators, attenuate Ab responses after vaccination. Evaluation of cellular responses after vaccination, therefore, is of particular importance in these populations. In this study, we used flow cytometry to analyze CD4 and CD8 T cell functional responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike peptides in healthy control study participants and pwMS receiving 5 different DMTs. Although pwMS receiving rituximab and fingolimod therapies had low Ab responses after both 2 and 3 vaccine doses, T cell responses in pwMS taking rituximab were preserved after a third vaccination, even when an additional dose of rituximab was administered between vaccine doses 2 and 3. PwMS taking fingolimod had low detectable T cell responses in peripheral blood. CD4 and CD8 T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern Delta and Omicron were lower than to the ancestral Wuhan-Hu-1 variant. Our results indicate the importance of assessing both cellular and humoral responses after vaccination and suggest that, even in the absence of robust Ab responses, vaccination can generate immune responses in pwMS.
Asia-Sophia Wolf, Anthony Ravussin, Marton König, Mathias H. Øverås, Guri Solum, Ingrid Fadum Kjønstad, Adity Chopra, Trygve Holmøy, Hanne F. Harbo, Silje Watterdal Syversen, Kristin Kaasen Jørgensen, Einar August Høgestøl, Jon Torgils Vaage, Elisabeth G. Celius, Fridtjof Lund-Johansen, Ludvig A. Munthe, Gro Owren Nygaard, Siri Mjaaland