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Predictors and Dynamics of the Humoral and Cellular Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccines in Hemodialysis Patients: A Multicenter Observational Study
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology  (IF10.121),  Pub Date : 2021-12-01, DOI: 10.1681/asn.2021070908
Jens Van Praet, Marijke Reynders, Dirk De Bacquer, Liesbeth Viaene, Melanie K. Schoutteten, Rogier Caluwé, Peter Doubel, Line Heylen, Annelies V. De Bel, Bruno Van Vlem, Deborah Steensels, An S. De Vriese


Preliminary evidence suggests patients on hemodialysis have a blunted early serological response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Optimizing the vaccination strategy in this population requires a thorough understanding of predictors and dynamics of humoral and cellular immune responses to different SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.


This prospective multicenter study of 543 patients on hemodialysis and 75 healthy volunteers evaluated the immune responses at 4 or 5 weeks and 8 or 9 weeks after administration of the BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 vaccine, respectively. We assessed anti–SARS-CoV-2 spike antibodies and T cell responses by IFN- secretion of peripheral blood lymphocytes upon SARS-CoV-2 glycoprotein stimulation (QuantiFERON assay) and evaluated potential predictors of the responses.


Compared with healthy volunteers, patients on hemodialysis had an incomplete, delayed humoral immune response and a blunted cellular immune response. Geometric mean antibody titers at both time points were significantly greater in patients vaccinated with mRNA-1273 versus BNT162b2, and a larger proportion of them achieved the threshold of 4160 AU/ml, corresponding with high neutralizing antibody titers in vitro (53.6% versus 31.8% at 8 or 9 weeks, P<0.0001). Patients vaccinated with mRNA-1273 versus BNT162b2 exhibited significantly greater median QuantiFERON responses at both time points, and a larger proportion achieved the threshold of 0.15 IU/ml (64.4% versus 46.9% at 8 or 9 weeks, P<0.0001). Multivariate analysis identified COVID-19 experience, vaccine type, use of immunosuppressive drugs, serum albumin, lymphocyte count, hepatitis B vaccine nonresponder status, and dialysis vintage as independent predictors of the humoral and cellular responses.


The mRNA-1273 vaccine’s greater immunogenicity may be related to its higher mRNA dose. This suggests a high-dose vaccine might improve the impaired immune response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in patients on hemodialysis.