Live-attenuated influenza vaccine induces tonsillar follicular T helper cell responses that correlate with antibody induction
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Infectious Diseases. 2020, 221(1), 21–32 10.1093/infdis/jiz321
Background: Influenza remains a major threat to public health. Live-attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) have been shown to be effective, particularly in children. Follicular T helper (TFH) cells provide B-cell help and are crucial for generating long-term humoral immunity. However the role of TFH cells in LAIV-induced immune responses is unknown. Methods: We collected tonsils, plasma, and saliva samples from children and adults receiving LAIV prior to tonsillectomy. We measured influenza-specific TFH-cell responses after LAIV by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Systemic and local antibody responses were analysed by hemagglutination inhibition assay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: We report that LAIV induced early (3–7 days post-vaccination) activation of tonsillar follicles and influenza-specific TFH-cell (CXCR5+CD57+CD4+ T cell) responses in children, and to a lesser extent in adults. Serological analyses showed that LAIV elicited rapid (day 14) and long-term (up to 1 year post-vaccination) antibody responses (hemagglutination inhibition, influenza-specific IgG) in children, but not adults. There was an inverse correlation between pre-existing influenza-specific salivary IgA concentrations and tonsillar TFH-cell responses, and a positive correlation between tonsillar TFH-cell and systemic IgG induction after LAIV. Conclusions: Our data, taken together, demonstrate an important role of tonsillar TFH cells in LAIV-induced immunity in humans.