In-depth characterization of long-term humoral and cellular immune responses to COVID-19m-RNA vaccination in multiple sclerosis patients treated with teriflunomide or alemtuzumab

Anat Achiron*, Mathilda Mandel, Sapir Dreyer-Alster, David Magalashvili, Shay Menascu, Yehuda Warszawer, Mark Dolev, Maria Didikin, Gil Harari, Polina Sonis, Rina Falb, Michael Gurevich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The impact of disease-modifying therapies on the efficacy to mount appropriate immune responses to COVID-19 vaccination in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) is currently under investigation. Objective: To characterize long-term humoral and cellular immunity in mRNA-COVID-19 MS vaccinees treated with teriflunomide or alemtuzumab. Methods: We prospectively measured SARS-COV-2 IgG, memory B-cells specific for SARS-CoV-2 RBD, and memory T-cells secreting IFN-γ and/or IL-2, in MS patients vaccinated with BNT162b2-COVID-19 vaccine before, 1, 3 and 6 months after the second vaccine dose, and 3–6 months following vaccine booster. Results: Patients were either untreated (N = 31, 21 females), under treatment with teriflunomide (N = 30, 23 females, median treatment duration 3.7 years, range 1.5–7.0 years), or under treatment with alemtuzumab (N = 12, 9 females, median time from last dosing 15.9 months, range 1.8–28.7 months). None of the patients had clinical SARS-CoV-2 or immune evidence for prior infection. Spike IgG titers were similar between untreated, teriflunomide and alemtuzumab treated MS patients both at 1 month (median 1320.7, 25–75 IQR 850.9–3152.8 vs. median 901.7, 25–75 IQR 618.5–1495.8, vs. median 1291.9, 25–75 IQR 590.8–2950.9, BAU/ml, respectively), at 3 months (median 1388.8, 25–75 1064.6–2347.6 vs. median 1164.3 25–75 IQR 726.4–1399.6, vs. median 837.2, 25–75 IQR 739.4–1868.5 BAU/ml, respectively), and at 6 months (median 437.0, 25–75 206.1–1161.3 vs. median 494.3, 25–75 IQR 214.6–716.5, vs. median 176.3, 25–75 IQR 72.3–328.8 BAU/ml, respectively) after the second vaccine dose. Specific SARS-CoV-2 memory B cells were detected in 41.9%, 40.0% and 41.7% of subjects at 1 month, in 32.3%, 43.3% and 25% at 3 months, and in 32.3%, 40.0%, 33.3% at 6 months following vaccination in untreated, teriflunomide treated and alemtuzumab treated MS patients, respectively. Specific SARS-CoV-2 memory T cells were found in 48.4%, 46.7% and 41.7 at 1 month, in 41.9%, 56.7% and 41.7% at 3 months, and in 38.7%, 50.0%, and 41.7% at 6 months, of untreated, teriflunomide-treated and alemtuzumab –treated MS patients, respectively. Administration of a third vaccine booster significantly increased both humoral and cellular responses in all patients. Conclusions: MS patients treated with teriflunomide or alemtuzumab achieved effective humoral and cellular immune responses up to 6 months following second COVID-19 vaccination. Immune responses were reinforced following the third vaccine booster.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104616
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • COVID-19m-RNA vaccination
  • Cellular immune responses
  • Humoral immune response
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Teriflunomide
  • alemtuzumab


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