Background: Patients with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs) on immunosuppressants (ISPs) may have impaired long-term humoral immune responses and increased disease activity after SARS-CoV-2 infection. We aimed to investigate long-term humoral immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 and increased disease activity after a primary SARS-CoV-2 infection in unvaccinated IMID patients on ISPs. Methods: IMID patients on active treatment with ISPs and controls (i.e. IMID patients not on ISP and healthy controls) with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection before first vaccination were included from an ongoing prospective cohort study (T2B! study). Clinical data on infections and increased disease activity were registered using electronic surveys and health records. A serum sample was collected before first vaccination to measure SARS-CoV-2 anti-receptor-binding domain (RBD) antibodies. Results: In total, 193 IMID patients on ISP and 113 controls were included. Serum samples from 185 participants were available, with a median time of 173 days between infection and sample collection. The rate of seropositive IMID patients on ISPs was 78% compared to 100% in controls (p < 0.001). Seropositivity rates were lowest in patients on anti-CD20 (40.0%) and anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents (60.5%), as compared to other ISPs (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). Increased disease activity after infection was reported by 68 of 260 patients (26.2%; 95% CI 21.2–31.8%), leading to ISP intensification in 6 out of these 68 patients (8.8%). Conclusion: IMID patients using ISPs showed reduced long-term humoral immune responses after primary SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was mainly attributed to treatment with anti-CD20 and anti-TNF agents. Increased disease activity after SARS-CoV-2 infection was reported commonly, but was mostly mild. Trial registration: NL74974.018.20, Trial ID: NL8900. Registered on 9 September 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Article number332
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Antibodies
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Covid-19
  • Disease activity
  • Flare
  • Immune-mediated inflammatory diseases
  • Immunity
  • Immunosuppression
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • TNF

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