Boosting of cross-reactive and protection-associated T cells in children after live attenuated influenza vaccination
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background. Live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs) stimulate a multifaceted immune response including cellular immunity, which may provide protection against newly emerging strains. This study shows proof of concept that LAIVs boost preexisting, cross-reactive T cells in children to genetically diverse influenza A virus (IAV) strains to which the children had not been exposed. Methods. We studied the long-term cross-reactive T-cell response in 14 trivalent LAIV–vaccinated children using the fluorescent immunospot assay (FluoroSpot) with heterologous H1N1 and H3N2 IAVs and CD8+ peptides from the internal proteins (matrix protein 1 [M1], nucleoprotein [NP], polymerase basic protein 1 [PB1]). Serum antibody responses were determined by means of hemagglutination inhibition assay. Blood samples were collected before vaccination and up to 1 year after vaccination. Results. Preexisting cross-reactive T cells to genetically diverse IAV strains were found in the majority of the children, which were further boosted in 50% of them after receipt of LAIV. Further analyses of these T cells showed significant increases in CD8+ T cells, mainly dominated by NP-specific responses. After vaccination with LAIV, the youngest children showed the highest increase in T-cell responses. Conclusion. LAIV boosts durable, cross-reactive T-cell responses in children and may have a clinically protective effect at the population level. LAIV may be a first step toward the desired universal influenza vaccine.