The composition of immune cells serves as a predictor of adaptive immunity in a cohort of 50- to 74-year-old adults

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Abstract

Summary

Influenza causes significant morbidity and mortality annually. Although vaccination offers a considerable amount of protection, it is far from perfect, especially in aging populations. This is due to age-related defects in immune function, a process called immunosenescence. To date, there are no assays or methods to predict or explain variations in an individual's level of response to influenza vaccination. In this study, we measured levels of several immune cell subsets at baseline (Day 0) and at Days 3 and 28 post-vaccination using flow cytometry. Statistical modelling was performed to assess correlations between levels of cell subsets and Day 28 immune responses – haemagglutination inhibition (HAI) assay, virus neutralizing antibody (VNA) assay, and memory B cell ELISPOT. Changes in several groups of cell types from Day 0 to Day 28 and Day 3 to Day 28 were found to be significantly associated with immune response. Baseline levels of several immune cell subsets, including B cells and regulatory T cells, were able to partially explain variation in memory B-cell ELISPOT results. Increased expression of HLA-DR on plasmacytoid dendritic cells after vaccination was correlated with increased HAI and VNA responses. Our data suggest that the expression of activation markers (HLA-DR and CD86) on various immune cell subsets, as well as the relative distribution of cell subsets, both have value in predicting immune responses to influenza vaccination in older individuals.

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