Humoral Immunity in Immunosuppressed IBD Patients after the Third SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination: A Comparison with Healthy Control Subjects
Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic is a result of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Vaccination against COVID-19 is crucial for preventing severe illness and controlling the pandemic. This study aimed to examine how immunosuppressed patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) responded to the third mRNA vaccination against SARS-CoV-2. The patients were undergoing treatments such as anti-TNF (infliximab, adalimumab), anti-α4ß7 integrin (vedolizumab), anti-IL12/23 (ustekinumab) and azathioprine (purine analog). Their responses were compared to those of healthy individuals. Methods: In this prospective study, 81 IBD patients and 15 healthy controls were enrolled 2–4 months after receiving the third mRNA vaccination. This study measured IgG antibody levels against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein’s receptor binding domain (RBD) and assessed potential neutralization capacity using a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT). Results: Overall, immunosuppressed IBD patients (without SARS-CoV-2 infection) exhibited significantly lower levels of anti-S-IgG (anti-RBD-IgG) and binding inhibition in the sVNT after the third vaccination compared to healthy controls. Patients under anti-TNF therapy showed notably reduced anti-S-IgG levels after the booster vaccination, in contrast to those receiving ustekinumab and azathioprine ( p = 0.030, p = 0.031). IBD patients on anti-TNF therapy demonstrated significantly increased anti-S-IgG levels following prior SARS-CoV-2 infection ( p = 0.020). Conclusion: Even after the third vaccination, immunosuppressed IBD patients exhibited diminished humoral immunity compared to healthy controls, especially those on anti-TNF therapy. Cases of penetrating infections led to considerably higher antibody levels in IBD patients under anti-TNF therapy compared to uninfected patients. Further investigation through prospective studies in immunosuppressed IBD patients is needed to determine whether this effectively safeguards against future infections or severe disease.