New research demonstrates that rheumatoid arthritis patients taking Orencia still benefit from the PPSV23 vaccine that aims to reduce pneumonia.

Although rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients taking abatacept (Orencia) produce less IgG in response to the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), they still benefit from being immunized, researchers found. The study, led by Kiyoshi Migita, Japanese National Hospital Organization, Tokyo, Japan, was published in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Biological therapies like abatacept are associated with an increased risk of infections, some of which can be prevented by vaccinations. It’s important to determine if RA patients receiving these therapies have normal responses to vaccines, the researchers explained.

Abatacept selectively modulates the co-stimulatory signal required to generate an immune response to protein and peptide antigens. The requirement of T-cell co-stimulation to produce high affinity IgG antibodies might have implications for pneumococcal vaccination.

Research shows that polysaccharides can elicit immune responses in the absence of T-cell help. Recent studies of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines suggested an adequate immune response in RA patients, but didn’t include a control group.

Their new immunogenicity study was nested within a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of PPSV23 in reducing pneumonia in Japanese patients with RA. It included patients receiving a nonmethotrexate DMARD (control group; n=35), methotrexate only (n= 55), and abatacept plus methotrexate (n=21).

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