Low efficacy of vaccination against serogroup B meningococci in patients with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome

Background: The C5 complement inhibitor eculizumab is first-line treatment in atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) going along with a highly increased risk of meningococcal infections. Serogroup B meningococci (MenB) are the most frequently encountered cause for meningococcal infections in Europe. Efficacy of the protein-based MenB-vaccine Bexsero in aHUS has not been determined and testing is only possible in patients off-treatment with eculizumab as a human complement source is required.

Methods: Patients with aHUS were vaccinated with two doses of the protein-based MenB-vaccine Bexsero. Serum bactericidal antibody (SBA) titers against factor H binding protein (fHbp) of MenB were determined in 14 patients with aHUS off-treatment with eculizumab.

Results: Only 50% of patients showed protective human serum bactericidal antibody (hSBA) titers (≥1:4) against MenB following two vaccinations. Bactericidal antibody titers were relatively low (≤1:8) in three of seven patients with protective titers. While 71% of patients were on immunosuppressive treatment for either thrombotic microangiopathy or renal transplantation at either first or second vaccination, all four patients not receiving any immunosuppressive treatment showed protective bactericidal antibody response. Time between second vaccination and titer measurement was not significantly different between patients with protective titers compared with those with non-protective titers, while time between first and second vaccination was significantly longer in patients with protective titers going along with a tendency for reduction in immunosuppressive treatment.

Conclusions: Efficacy of vaccination against MenB is insufficient in patients with aHUS. Response to vaccination seems to be hampered by immunosuppression. Therefore, implementation of adequate antibiotic prophylaxis seems pivotal.


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