Preexisting immunity, more than aging, influences influenza vaccine responses

Adrian J. Reber, Jin Hyang Kim, Renata Biber, H. Keipp Talbot, Laura A. Coleman, Tatiana Chirkova, F. Liaini Gross, Evelene Steward-Clark, Weiping Cao, Stacie Jefferson, Vic Veguilla, Eric Gillis, Jennifer Meece, Yaohui Bai, Heather Tatum, Kathy Hancock, James Stevens, Sarah Spencer, Jufu Chen, Paul GargiulloElise Braun, Marie R. Griffin, Maria E Sundaram, Edward A. Belongia, David K. Shay, Jacqueline M. Katz, Suryaprakash Sambhara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background. Influenza disproportionately impacts older adults while current vaccines have reduced effectiveness in the older population. Methods. We conducted a comprehensive evaluation of cellular and humoral immune responses of adults aged 50 years and older to the 2008-2009 seasonal trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine and assessed factors influencing vaccine response. Results. Vaccination increased hemagglutination inhibition and neutralizing antibody; however, 66.3% of subjects did not reach hemagglutination inhibition titers ≥40 for H1N1, compared with 22.5% for H3N2. Increasing age had a minor negative impact on antibody responses, whereas prevaccination titers were the best predictors of postvaccination antibody levels. Preexisting memory B cells declined with age, especially for H3N2. However, older adults still demonstrated a significant increase in antigen-specific IgG+ and IgA+ memory B cells postvaccination. Despite reduced frequency of preexisting memory B cells associated with advanced age, fold-rise in memory B cell frequency in subjects 60+ was comparable to subjects age 50-59. Conclusions. Older adults mounted statistically significant humoral and cell-mediated immune responses, but many failed to reach hemagglutination inhibition titers ≥40, especially for H1N1. Although age had a modest negative effect on vaccine responses, prevaccination titers were the best predictor of postvaccination antibody levels, irrespective of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Societyof America.


  • Aging
  • Immune response
  • Influenza
  • Older adults
  • Vaccine


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