National Institutes of Health scientists released study results on April 10 that show a new approach to predicting how the human immune system will respond to an influenza vaccine.
The models of prediction are based on the state of the immune system before immunization and observing how the system changes after being inoculated. The framework reveals factors that influence immune responses that could be used to optimize treatment.
Researchers used systems biology to take a broad look at how components work together to achieve an outcome, instead of looking at a single factor or component.
During the study, researchers examined the immune systems of more than 60 participants before and after administering the 2009 seasonal and pandemic H1N1 flu vaccines. Multiple blood samples were taken before and after the vaccination.
Models were created from the blood samples, showing different immune cell types and their frequencies, the expression of genes, levels of flu-specific antibodies and antibody-producing cells. The scientists accounted for age, gender and pre-existing immunity to flu, and found the level of immune cell types present prior to vaccination were sufficient to predict how the immune system would react to the vaccine.
The team said more research is needed to determine if the predictor can be proven across seasons and with vaccines for other diseases.
The researchers said that examining the immune system prior to vaccination has contributed to the understanding of what a normal, healthy, human immune system is.
The study was completed with resources from the Center for Human Immunology, Autoimmunity and Inflammation and the Human Immunology Project Consortium.