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Importance of the second SARS-CoV-2 vaccination dose for achieving serological response in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and seronegative spondyloarthritis


Objectives To assess the kinetics of humoral response after the first and second dose of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines in patients with inflammatory joint diseases compared with healthy controls (HC). To analyse factors influencing the quantity of the immune response.

Methods We enrolled patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and seronegative spondyloarthritis (SpA), excluding those receiving B-cell depleting therapies and assessed the humoral response to mRNA vaccines after the first and the second dose of the vaccine in terms of seroconversion rate and titre. We compared the results to a HC group and analysed the influence of therapies as well as other characteristics on the humoral response.

Results Samples from 53 patients with RA, 46 patients with SpA and 169 healthy participants were analysed. Seroconversion rates after the first immunisation were only 54% in patients with inflammatory arthritis compared with 98% in the HC group. However, seroconversion rates were 100% in all groups after second immunisation. Patients developed reduced antibody titres after the first vaccination compared with HC, but there was no difference after the second dose. While disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) monotherapy did not affect antibody levels, seroconversion rates as well as titre levels were reduced in patients receiving a combination of DMARDs compared with HC.

Conclusions Patients with inflammatory joint diseases under DMARD therapy show impaired humoral responses to the first vaccine dose but excellent final responses to vaccination with mRNA vaccines. Therefore, the full course of two immunisations is necessary for efficient vaccination responses in patients with inflammatory arthritis under DMARD therapy.

  • arthritis
  • COVID-19
  • vaccination

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Not applicable.

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