Humoral and Cellular Responses to SARS-CoV-2 in Convalescent COVID-19 Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

Background and Objectives

Information about humoral and cellular responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and antibody persistence in convalescent (COVID-19) patients with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) is scarce. The objectives of this study were to investigate factors influencing humoral and cellular responses to SARS-CoV-2 and its persistence in convalescent COVID-19 PwMS.

Methods

This is a retrospective study of confirmed COVID-19 convalescent PwMS identified between February 2020 and May 2021 by SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing. We examined relationships between demographics, MS characteristics, disease-modifying therapy (DMT), and humoral (immunoglobulin G against spike and nucleocapsid proteins) and cellular (interferon-gamma [IFN-]) responses to SARS-CoV-2.

Results

A total of 121 (83.45%) of 145 PwMS were seropositive, and 25/42 (59.5%) presented a cellular response up to 13.1 months after COVID-19. Anti–CD20-treated patients had lower antibody titers than those under other DMTs (p < 0.001), but severe COVID-19 and a longer time from last infusion increased the likelihood of producing a humoral response. IFN- levels did not differ among DMT. Five of 7 (71.4%) anti-–CD20-treated seronegative patients had a cellular response. The humoral response persisted for more than 6 months in 41/56(81.13%) PwMS. In multivariate analysis, seropositivity decreased due to anti-CD20 therapy (OR 0.08 [95% CI 0.01–0.55]) and increased in males (OR 3.59 [1.02–12.68]), whereas the cellular response decreased in those with progressive disease (OR 0.04 [0.001–0.88]). No factors were associated with antibody persistence.

Discussion

Humoral and cellular responses to SARS-CoV-2 are present in COVID-19 convalescent PwMS up to 13.10 months after COVID-19. The humoral response decreases under anti-CD20 treatment, although the cellular response can be detected in anti–CD20-treated patients, even in the absence of antibodies.

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