Third dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine in heart transplant recipients: Immunogenicity and clinical experience

Yael Peled, Eilon Ram, Jacob Lavee, Amit Segev, Shlomi Matezki, Anat Wieder-Finesod, Rebecca Halperin, Michal Mandelboim, Victoria Indenbaum, Itzchak Levy, Leonid Sternik, Ehud Raanani, Arnon Afek, Yitshak Kreiss, Yaniv Lustig, Galia Rahav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The repeated waves of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the necessity to optimize vaccine responses in immunocompromised populations. We investigated the safety and immunogenicity of a third, booster, dose of the Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine in heart transplant (HT) patients. METHODS: The cohort comprised 96 adult HT patients who received a third homologous dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine 168 days after the second dose. The vaccine-induced antibody responses of both receptor-binding domain (RBD) IgG and neutralizing antibodies were assessed in all patients, with a positive antibody response being defined as the presence of either IgG anti-RBD or neutralizing antibodies. For a subset of patients, T cell response was also studied. RESULTS: The third dose was associated with a low rate of adverse events, mostly mild pain at the injection site. No serious adverse events were recorded, and there were no episodes of rejection. At 18 days following the third dose of the vaccine, the positive antibody response increased from 23% to 67%, with a corresponding increase in neutralizing capacity. The third dose elicited SARS-CoV-2 neutralization titers >9-fold and IgG anti-RBD antibodies >3-fold of the range achieved after the two primary doses. Mycophenolate use, lower eGFR and higher C-reactive protein were independently associated with a reduced likelihood of generating an immune response. Importantly, a specific T-cell response following the third dose was evident in the majority of transplant recipients. CONCLUSIONS: An homologous third booster dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine gave overall consistent tolerability and a good safety profile, while eliciting humoral and cellular immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-157
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • BNT162b2 vaccine
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • IgG anti-RBD
  • booster
  • heart transplantation
  • neutralizing antibodies


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