Objectives: The effect of anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) therapy on the antibody responses to vaccines is the subject of ongoing debate. Therefore, we investigated the effect of the three currently available anti-TNF agents on influenza vaccination outcomes in a patient population with long-standing disease.
Methods: In a prospective cohort study, we assessed the antibody response upon influenza vaccination in 112 patients with long-standing autoimmune disease treated with immunosuppressive medication either with anti-TNF (etanercept, adalimumab or infliximab; n = 64) or without anti-TNF (n = 48) and a control group of 18 healthy individuals. Antibody responses were determined by haemagglutination inhibition assay, before and 4 weeks after vaccination.
Results: The proportion of individuals with a protective titre (⩾40) after vaccination was large (80–94%) and did not significantly differ between the three groups. Post-vaccination geometric mean antibody titres against influenza (A/H3N2 and B) were significantly lower in the 64 patients treated with anti-TNF compared with the 48 patients not receiving anti-TNF, and the healthy controls.
Conclusions: The antibody response to influenza vaccination in patients treated with anti-TNF is only modestly impaired. The proportion of patients that achieves a protective titre is not significantly diminished by the use of TNF blocking therapies.
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Competing interests: None.