COVID-19 vaccine-readiness for anti-CD20-depleting therapy in autoimmune diseases.

Clinical and Experimental Immunology
David BakerSandra Amor


Although most autoimmune diseases are considered to be CD4 T cell- or antibody-mediated, many respond to CD20-depleting antibodies that have limited influence on CD4 and plasma cells. This includes rituximab, oblinutuzumab and ofatumumab that are used in cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and off-label in a large number of other autoimmunities and ocrelizumab in multiple sclerosis. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic created concerns about immunosuppression in autoimmunity, leading to cessation or a delay in immunotherapy treatments. However, based on the known and emerging biology of autoimmunity and COVID-19, it was hypothesised that while B cell depletion should not necessarily expose people to severe SARS-CoV-2-related issues, it may inhibit protective immunity following infection and vaccination. As such, drug-induced B cell subset inhibition, that controls at least some autoimmunities, would not influence innate and CD8 T cell responses, which are central to SARS-CoV-2 elimination, nor the hypercoagulation and innate inflammation causing severe morbidity. This is supported clinically, as the majority of SARS-CoV-2-infected, CD20-depleted people with autoimmunity have recovered. However, protective neutralizing antibody and vaccinat...Continue Reading


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