Study examines immune responses in patients with kidney failure after receiving different COVID-19 vaccines

Nov. 29, 2021

A press release by the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), stated that individuals with kidney failure who were on dialysis had an incomplete and delayed antibody response and a blunted cellular immune response following COVID-19 vaccination, compared with people with normal kidney function.

Immune responses were substantially stronger with the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine than with the PfizerBioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine. A variety of other characteristics also predicted the strength of patients’ immune responses following vaccination.

Death rates from COVID-19 are especially high in individuals with kidney failure who are on dialysis, making SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in this population a high priority.  A recent study compared the immune responses of patients with and without kidney failure following immunization with different COVID-19 vaccines. The findings, which are published in JASN, may help improve vaccination strategies in vulnerable patients.

Individuals on dialysis typically have an impaired response to vaccination. To better understand the predictors and dynamics of their antibody and cellular immune responses to different SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, a team led by An S. De Vriese, MD, PhD (AZ Sint-Jan Brugge, in Belgium) prospectively evaluated responses at 4 or 5 weeks and again at 8 or 9 weeks after immunization with the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) and Moderna (mRNA-1273) mRNA vaccines in 543 patients on hemodialysis and 75 individuals with normal kidney function.

 “These differences in immune response may translate into differences in vaccine effectiveness in vulnerable populations in the long-term, when protective immunity is waning and in the battle against the Delta variant,” said Dr. De Vriese.

In addition, patients on hemodialysis who had a prior COVID-19 infection, did not take immunosuppressive drugs, had higher serum albumin levels and lymphocyte counts, had previously responded to hepatitis B vaccination, and were on dialysis for only a short amount of time had higher antibody and cellular immune responses.

ASN release

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