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Anti-inflammatory Drugs May Cause Weaker Immune Response to Covid-19 Vaccine: Study | India News

NEW DELHI: Some people taking the drug methotrexate to treat common immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis may have a weaker immune response to the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a study.
People with immune-mediated inflammatory disorders are generally treated with medications that reduce inflammation, including methotrexate.
Disorders occur when the immune system, designed to fight disease and promote healing, becomes abnormally activated, which in turn causes inflammation, pain, and swelling.
The study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, specifically looked at patient responses to the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, which the researchers measured by looking at the antibodies produced in each patient by the vaccine.
The ingredients in the vaccine, once injected into the body, are intended to trigger the production of antibodies, immune proteins that specifically target the viral protein, deactivating it and tagging it for elimination from the body.
However, researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU Langone Health in the US cautioned that the lower antibody response in patients taking methotrexate does not necessarily mean that these patients are not protected against Covid-19.
“It is very important to state that patients should not be concerned about the findings of our study, as most patients with immune system disorders are responding well to mRNA vaccines,” explained study co-lead author Rebecca Haberman.
“It is also possible that methotrexate is delaying, rather than preventing, an adequate immune response against Covid-19,” he added.
Researchers have known that rheumatoid arthritis patients taking methotrexate have a reduced response to seasonal flu vaccines.
Since mRNA vaccines use a new mechanism of action that patients with these common immune disorders had not seen before, the team wanted to determine how well these patients are protected.
The study included healthy people and patients treated for common immune-mediated disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and psoriasis.
Participants received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA Covid-19 vaccine.
The researchers analyzed blood samples to determine the amount of antibodies produced by the patients after receiving the vaccine.
They also measured the activation of key immune system cells, including CD8 killer T cells, which are generated as part of the body’s immune response.
The study found that more than 90 percent of healthy subjects and patients taking medications other than methotrexate to control inflammation had strong antibody responses.
Patients with immune-mediated inflammatory disorders who were taking methotrexate achieved an adequate response in only 62 percent of cases.
Similarly, while healthy patients and those with common immune disorders taking anti-inflammatory drugs other than methotrexate produced CD8 T cells, patients taking methotrexate did not show increased activation of CD8 T cells after vaccination.
“More research is needed to understand why such a significant proportion of people with common immune disorders who take methotrexate have deficiencies in the assembly of a cellular and antibody response,” says study co-lead author Jose U. Scher, associate professor. from NYU Langone.
“This may not necessarily mean that the vaccine is not effective, but that alternative vaccine strategies need to be investigated,” Scher said.
These alternative vaccine strategies include the ability to stop methotrexate for as long as these patients receive the vaccine, change the dose of the drug, or possibly give a booster shot of the vaccine, he added.

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