Research reveals protective properties of influenza vaccines

March 25, 2013, Nationwide Children's Hospital

(Medical Xpress)—Collaborating scientists from Nationwide Children's Hospital, Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified an important mechanism for stimulating protective immune responses following seasonal influenza vaccinations. The study was published in Science Translational Medicine, a journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

While vaccines protect 60 to 90 percent of healthy adults from "the flu," the mechanisms providing that protection are still not well understood.

The study led by Octavio Ramilo, MD, chief of Infectious Diseases and an investigator in the Center for Vaccines and Immunity at Nationwide Children's Hospital and professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine, and Hideki Ueno, MD, PhD, an investigator at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research at Baylor University, demonstrates how certain in the blood are stimulated to provide protective antibody responses with seasonal flu vaccines.

Antibodies are produced by specific or , which serve as an immune defense against foreign bodies such as the . Helper T , another type of white cell, are essential for the generation of B cells.

Blood samples before and after influenza vaccination from three groups of healthy study participants were analyzed for antibody responses. The groups included two sets of adults, one receiving flu vaccines during the 2009-2010 winter and the other receiving vaccination during the 2011-2012 winter. The third group included children receiving the during the 2010-2011 winter.

Analyses show that a temporary increase in a unique subset of helper T cells expressing the co-stimulator molecule ICOS adds to the immune response by helping B cells produce influenza-specific antibodies.

Results indicated that at day seven following the administration of a flu vaccine in all groups, stimulated T cells were evident, contributing to the development of the immune response.

The T cells positively correlated with increased antibodies against each flu virus strain examined, with the exception in the children's group against the swine-origin H1N1 virus.

"Given that seasonal influenza vaccines induce mainly through boosting the recall response of the immune system, this lack of correlation might reflect the lack of H1N1 specific immunity in some children," explains study co-author Emilio Flano, PhD, a principal investigator in the Center for Vaccines and Immunity at Nationwide Children's and an associate professor of Pediatrics at OSU College of Medicine.

"This is consistent with the fact that these children had not been vaccinated or naturally exposed to the H1N1 virus prior to being vaccinated during the 2010-2011 winter," said study co-author Santiago Lopez, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Vaccines and Immunity and a resident at Nationwide Children's.

Further experiments demonstrated that this unique subset of helper T cells can boost production of existing antibodies that fight flu by stimulating memory B cells, but do not help production of new antibodies by naïve B cells.

"We're gratified that our study provides evidence of one of the essential events associated with the immune response following seasonal ," says Dr. Ramilo. "Understanding these processes is a key step toward developing more effective vaccines."

Explore further: Study suggests potential hurdle to universal flu vaccine development may be overcome

Related Stories

Study suggests potential hurdle to universal flu vaccine development may be overcome

August 15, 2012
In the quest for a universal influenza vaccine—one that elicits broadly neutralizing antibodies that can protect against most or all strains of flu virus—scientists have faced a sobering question: Does pre-existing ...

Annual childhood flu vaccines may interfere with development of crossresistance

November 17, 2011
Vaccinating children annually against influenza virus interferes with their development of cross-reactive killer T cells to flu viruses generally, according to a paper in the November Journal of Virology.

H1N1 discovery paves way for universal flu vaccine: research

May 8, 2012
University of British Columbia researchers have found a potential way to develop universal flu vaccines and eliminate the need for seasonal flu vaccinations.

Two-pronged immune cell approach could lead to universal shot against flu

March 14, 2013
Seasonal epidemics of influenza result in nearly 36,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Current vaccines against the influenza virus elicit an antibody response specific ...

Recommended for you

Onions could hold key to fighting antibiotic resistance

January 22, 2018
A type of onion could help the fight against antibiotic resistance in cases of tuberculosis, a UCL and Birkbeck-led study suggests.

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.