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Background/purpose The objective of this study was to explore the impact of systemic lupus erythematosus and belimumab given in addition to standard of care therapy on 13-valent conjugated pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13) response. Methods Forty-seven systemic lupus erythematosus patients and 21 healthy controls were immunized with a single dose of 13-valent conjugated pneumococcal vaccine. Forty systemic lupus erythematosus patients were treated with traditional disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs, 11 of those received belimumab in addition, and 32 patients were treated with concomitant prednisolone. Quantification of serotype specific IgG levels to 12 pneumococcal capsular polysaccharides was performed in serum taken before and four to six weeks after vaccination using multiplex fluorescent microsphere immunoassay. IgG levels against serotypes 23F and 6B were also analyzed using standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Opsonophagocytic assay was performed on serotype 23F to evaluate the functionality of the antibodies. Pre- and post-vaccination log transformed antibody levels were compared to determine the impact of systemic lupus erythematosus diagnosis and different treatments on antibody response. Results Systemic lupus erythematosus patients as a group showed lower post-vaccination antibody levels and lower fold increase of antibody levels after vaccination compared to controls ( p = 0.02 and p = 0.009, respectively). Systemic lupus erythematosus patients treated with belimumab in addition to standard of care therapy or with only hydroxychloroquine did not differ compared to controls, whereas the other treatment groups had significantly lower fold increase of post-vaccination antibody levels. Higher age was associated with lower post-vaccination antibody levels among systemic lupus erythematosus patients. Conclusion Belimumab given in addition to traditional disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs or prednisolone did not further impair antibody response to 13-valent conjugated pneumococcal vaccine.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1072 - 1081


B-cells, Systemic lupus erythematosus, disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs (biologic), infection, vaccination, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized, Antibody Formation, Antirheumatic Agents, Case-Control Studies, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Female, Humans, Immunoglobulin G, Immunosuppressive Agents, Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic, Male, Middle Aged, Pneumococcal Vaccines, Prednisolone, Vaccination, Young Adult