People with certain blood cancers have a strong T cell response to the COVID-19 vaccine, despite low antibody concentrations, a German study has shown.
The team was led by Dr Andrea Keppler-Hafkemeyer and Dr Christine Greil from the Medical Center-University of Freiburg and virologist Professor Oliver T. Keppler from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU) Munich. Together they have characterised in detail the immune response of 60 patients with blood cancer who had received a total of three vaccinations against COVID-19.
The study, published in Nature Cancer, focused on patients with B-cell lymphoma and multiple myeloma. The team found almost all study participants had a strong T cell response to COVID-19 vaccination.
Dr Greil said: “This could be one reason why breakthrough infections turned out to be mild to moderately severe even in study participants who had been unable to form any specific antibodies after vaccination because of their therapy.”
The team compared the quantity and quality of antibodies and T cell responses to the spike protein among blood cancer patients and healthy study participants after two and three COVID-19 vaccinations. They found that, although many patients produced lower concentrations of antibodies, those who could form antibodies tend to produce antibodies of particularly high quality. This means that, after their second vaccination, they can neutralise, and therefore deactivate, different SARS-CoV-2 variants.
The researchers found this is significantly more pronounced in the patient cohort than in vaccinated healthy people.
Keppler-Hafkemeyer A, Greil C, Wratil PR, Shoumariyeh K, Stern M, Hafkemeyer A, Ashok D, Hollaus A, Lupoli G, Priller A, Bischof ML, Ihorst G, Engelhardt M, Marks R, Finke J, Bertrand H, Dächert C, Muenchhoff M, Badell I, Emmerich F, Halder H, Spaeth PM, Knolle PA, Protzer U, von Bergwelt-Baildon M, Duyster J, Hartmann TN, Moosmann A, Keppler OT. (2022) “Potent high-avidity neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses after COVID-19 vaccination in individuals with B cell lymphoma and multiple myeloma.” Nature Cancer, doi: 10.1038/s43018-022-00502-x
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