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Poor neutralizing antibody responses in 106 patients with WM after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2: a prospective study

  • Gavriatopoulou, Maria1
  • Terpos, Evangelos1
  • Ntanasis-Stathopoulos, Ioannis1
  • Briasoulis, Alexandros1
  • Gumeni, Sentiljana2
  • Malandrakis, Panagiotis1
  • Fotiou, Despina1
  • Migkou, Magdalini1
  • Theodorakakou, Foteini1
  • Eleutherakis-Papaiakovou, Evangelos1
  • Kanellias, Nikolaos1
  • Kastritis, Efstathios1
  • Trougakos, Ioannis P.2
  • Dimopoulos, Meletios A.1
  • 1 Department of Clinical Therapeutics, School of Medicine, and
  • 2 Department of Cell Biology and Biophysics, Faculty of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Published Article
Blood Advances
American Society of Hematology
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2021005444
PMID: 34529762
PMCID: PMC8450138
PubMed Central
  • Lymphoid Neoplasia


Immunocompromised patients with hematologic malignancies are more susceptible to COVID-19 and at higher risk of severe complications and worse outcomes compared with the general population. In this context, we evaluated the humoral response by determining the titers of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against SARS-CoV-2 in patients with Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) after vaccination with the BNT162b2 or AZD1222 vaccine. A US Food and Drug Administration–approved enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay–based methodology was implemented to evaluate NAbs on the day of the first vaccine shot, as well as on days 22 and 50 afterward. A total of 106 patients with WM (43% men; median age, 73 years) and 212 healthy controls (46% men; median age, 66 years) who were vaccinated during the same period at the same center were enrolled in the study (which is registered at as #NCT04743388). Our data indicate that vaccination with either 2 doses of the BNT162b2 or 1 dose of the AZD1222 vaccine leads to lower production of NAbs against SARS-CoV-2 in patients with WM compared with controls on days 22 and 50 ( P < .001 for all comparisons). Disease-related immune dysregulation and therapy-related immunosuppression are involved in the low humoral response. Importantly, active treatment with either rituximab or Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitors was proven as an independent prognostic factor for suboptimal antibody response after vaccination. In conclusion, patients with WM have low humoral response after COVID-19 vaccination, which underlines the need for timely vaccination ideally during a treatment-free period and for continuous vigilance on infection control measures.

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