Vaccine Safety and Immunogenicity in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis Treated With Natalizumab

René Carvajal, Ana Zabalza, Pere Carbonell-Mirabent, Xavier Martínez-Gómez, Juliana Esperalba, Agustín Pappolla, Ariadna Rando, Alvaro Cobo-Calvo, Carmen Tur, Marta Rodriguez, Jordi Río, Manuel Comabella, Joaquín Castilló, José Ángel Rodrigo-Pendás, Nathane Braga, Neus Mongay-Ochoa, Claudia Guío-Sánchez, Ángela Vidal-Jordana, Georgina Arrambide, Breogán Rodríguez-AcevedoLuciana Midaglia, Blanca Borras-Bermejo, Ingrid Galán, Jaume Sastre-Garriga, Xavier Montalban, Susana Otero-Romero, Mar Tintoré

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


IMPORTANCE: Vaccination in patients with highly active multiple sclerosis (MS) requiring prompt treatment initiation may result in impaired vaccine responses and/or treatment delay.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the immunogenicity and safety of inactivated vaccines administered during natalizumab treatment.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This self-controlled, prospective cohort study followed adult patients with MS from 1 study center in Spain from September 2016 to February 2022. Eligible participants included adults with MS who completed immunization for hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis A virus (HAV), and COVID-19 during natalizumab therapy. Data analysis was conducted from November 2022 to February 2023.

EXPOSURES: Patients were categorized according to their time receiving natalizumab treatment at the time of vaccine administration as short-term (≤1 year) or long-term (>1 year).

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Demographic, clinical, and radiological characteristics were collected during the year before vaccination (prevaccination period) and the year after vaccination (postvaccination period). Seroprotection rates and postvaccination immunoglobulin G titers were determined for each vaccine within both periods. Additionally, differences in annualized relapse rate (ARR), new T2 lesions (NT2L), Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores, and John Cunningham virus (JCV) serostatus between the 2 periods were assessed.

RESULTS: Sixty patients with MS (mean [SD] age, 43.2 [9.4] years; 44 female [73.3%]; 16 male [26.7%]; mean [SD] disease duration, 17.0 [8.7] years) completed HBV, HAV, and mRNA COVID-19 immunization during natalizumab treatment, with 12 patients in the short-term group and 48 patients in the long-term group. The global seroprotection rate was 93% (95% CI, 86%-98%), with individual vaccine rates of 92% for HAV (95% CI, 73%-99%), 93% for HBV (95% CI, 76%-99%), and 100% for the COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccine (95% CI, 84%-100%). Between the prevaccination and postvaccination periods there was a significant reduction in the mean (SD) ARR (0.28 [0.66] vs 0.01 [0.12]; P = .004) and median (IQR) NT2L (5.00 [2.00-10.00] vs 0.81 [0.00-0.50]; P = .01). No changes in disability accumulation were detected (median [IQR] EDSS score 3.5 [2.0-6.0] vs 3.5 [2.0-6.0]; P = .62). No differences in safety and immunogenicity were observed for all vaccines concerning the duration of natalizumab treatment.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The findings of this cohort study suggest that immunization with inactivated vaccines during natalizumab therapy was both safe and immunogenic, regardless of the treatment duration. Natalizumab may be a valuable option for proper immunization, averting treatment delays in patients with highly active MS; however, this strategy needs to be formally evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere246345
Number of pages14
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2024


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