BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is strongly recommended in kidney transplant recipients (KTR) and dialysis patients. Whether these vaccinations may trigger alloantibodies, is still debated.
METHODS: In the current study we evaluated the effect of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines on anti-Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) and 60 anti-non-HLA antibody profiles in clinically stable KTR and dialysis patients. In total, we included 28 KTR, 30 patients on haemodialysis, 25 patients on peritoneal dialysis and 31 controls with a positive seroresponse 16-21 days after the first dose of either the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 vaccine. Both anti-HLA and anti-non-HLA antibodies were determined prior to vaccination and 21 to 35 days after the second vaccine dose.
RESULTS: Overall, the proportion of patients with detectable anti-HLA antibodies was similar before and after vaccination (class I 14% vs. 16%, p = 0.48; class II 25% before and after vaccination). After vaccination, there was no pattern in 1) additionally detected anti-HLA antibodies, or 2) the levels of pre-existing ones. Additional anti-non-HLA antibodies were detected in 30% of the patients, ranging from 1 to 5 new anti-non-HLA antibodies per patient. However, the clinical significance of anti-non-HLA antibodies is still a matter of debate. To date, only a significant association has been found for anti-non-HLA ARHGDIB antibodies and long-term kidney graft loss. No additionally developed anti-ARHGDIB antibodies or elevated level of existing anti-ARHGDIB antibodies was observed.
CONCLUSION: The current data indicate that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination does not induce anti-HLA or anti-non-HLA antibodies, corroborating the importance of vaccinating KTR and dialysis patients.