Publication Date



Therapeutic Advances in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine


BACKGROUND: Heart transplant (HTX) recipients are at a significantly higher risk of adverse clinical outcomes, due to chronic immunosuppression and co-existence of other chronic conditions, when contracting the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Although vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 is currently the most promising measure for the prevention of severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) among solid organ transplant recipients, the extent of immune response and its protective efficacy among patients receiving HTX has not been sufficiently studied.

METHODS: We performed a systematic review of the literature by inquiring PubMed/Medline to identify original studies among HTX recipients, who had received at least one dose of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Data on the measured humoral or cellular immune response was collected from all the eligible studies. Factors associated with a poor immune response were further investigated within these studies.

RESULTS: A total of 12 studies comprising 563 HTX recipients were included. The average age of the study participants was 60.8 years. Sixty four percent of the study population were male. Ninety percent of the patients had received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/ BNT162b2 or Moderna/mRNA-1273). A positive immune response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was variably reported in 0% to 100% of the patients. Older age (> 65 years), vaccine dose (first, second, or third), time since HTX to the first dose of the vaccine, the time interval between the latest dose of the vaccine and measurement of the immune response, and the type of immunosuppressive regimen were all indicated as potential determinants of a robust immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination.

CONCLUSION: HTX recipients demonstrate a weaker immune response to the vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 compared to the general population. Older age, anti-metabolite agents such as mycophenolate mofetil, and vaccination during the first year following the HTX have been indicated as potential determinants of a poor immune response.


SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, COVID-19, heart transplant, cardiac transplantation, immunization, humoral immune response, cellular immune response



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.