Abstract

Background: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) receiving anti-TNF and JAK-inhibitor therapy have attenuated responses to COVID-19 vaccination. We aimed to determine how IBD treatments affect neutralising antibody responses against the Omicron BA.4/5 variant. Methods: In this multicentre cohort study, we prospectively recruited 340 adults (69 healthy controls and 271 IBD) at nine UK hospitals between May 28, 2021 and March 29, 2022. The IBD study population was established (>12 weeks therapy) on either thiopurine (n = 63), infliximab (n = 45), thiopurine and infliximab combination therapy (n = 48), ustekinumab (n = 45), vedolizumab (n = 46) or tofacitinib (n = 24). Patients were excluded if they were being treated with any other immunosuppressive therapies. Participants had two doses of either ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or BNT162b2 vaccines, followed by a third dose of either BNT162b2 or mRNA1273. Pseudo-neutralisation assays against SARS-CoV-2 wild-type and BA.4/5 were performed. The half maximal inhibitory concentration (NT50) of participant sera was calculated. The primary outcome was anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralising response against wild-type virus and Omicron BA.4/5 variant after the second and third doses of anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, stratified by immunosuppressive therapy, adjusting for prior infection, vaccine type, age, and interval between vaccination and blood collection. This study is registered with ISRCTN (No. 13495664). Findings: Both heterologous (first two doses adenovirus vaccine, third dose mRNA vaccine) and homologous (three doses mRNA vaccine) vaccination strategies significantly increased neutralising titres against both wild-type SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Omicron BA.4/5 variant in healthy participants and patients with IBD. Antibody titres against BA.4/5 were significantly lower than antibodies against wild-type virus in both healthy participants and patients with IBD (p < 0.0001). Multivariable models demonstrated that neutralising antibodies against BA.4/5 after three doses of vaccine were significantly lower in patients with IBD on infliximab (Geometric Mean Ratio (GMR) 0.19 [0.10, 0.36], p < 0.0001), infliximab and thiopurine combination (GMR 0.25 [0.13, 0.49], p < 0.0001) or tofacitinib (GMR 0.43 [0.20, 0.91], p = 0.028), but not in patients on thiopurine monotherapy, ustekinumab, or vedolizumab. Breakthrough infection was associated with lower neutralising antibodies against wild-type (p = 0.037) and BA.4/5 (p = 0.045). Interpretation: A third dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine based on the wild-type spike glycoprotein significantly boosts neutralising antibody titres in patients with IBD. However, responses are lower against the Omicron variant BA.4/5, particularly in patients taking anti-TNF and JAK-inhibitor therapy. Breakthrough infections are associated with lower neutralising antibodies and immunosuppressed patients with IBD may receive additional benefit from bivalent vaccine boosters which target Omicron variants. Funding: Pfizer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102249
JournalEClinicalMedicine
Volume64
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Breakthrough infection
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Infliximab
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tofacitinib

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