Generation of switched memory B cells in response to vaccination in Down syndrome children and their siblings

Diletta Valentini, Valentina Marcellini, Simona Bianchi, Alberto Villani, Marzia Facchini, Isabella Donatelli, Maria Rita Castrucci, Emiliano Marasco, Chiara Farroni, Rita Carsetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Immunodeficiency is an integral aspect of Down syndrome, as demonstrated by the increased susceptibility to infection of affected. Mortality is still higher than in general population, with respiratory infections among the major causes of death. As more people with Down syndrome are living today than ever before, it is indispensable to develop strategies to prevent and cure the associated disorders. Vaccination is the most successful instrument of preventive medicine. Special seasonal influenza and pneumococcal vaccination strategies have been designed for individuals with risk conditions of all ages. Down syndrome individuals are not included in the high-risk categories. Methods: We enrolled in our study 15 children with Down syndrome and their siblings, vaccinated for the first time with seasonal influenza vaccine and receiving a booster dose of a glyco-conjugated pneumococcal vaccine. We compared the immunological features and response to vaccination measuring serum antibody titers and frequency of specific memory B cells. Results: We confirm that a severe reduction of switched memory B cells is always associated to Down syndrome. After primary vaccination Down syndrome children generate significantly less specific switched memory B cells than their siblings. The response to a booster dose of vaccine is instead comparable in both groups. The production of specific antibodies was equally effective in Down syndrome and controls both after primary and secondary immunization. Conclusions: Down syndrome individuals should be considered a high risk group, because of their increased susceptibility to infection and reduced number of switched memory B cells. Tailored vaccination protocols are needed in order to reduce their burden of infections throughout life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6689-6696
Number of pages8
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - Nov 27 2015


  • Antibodies
  • Down syndrome
  • Respiratory infections
  • Switched memory B cells
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • veterinary(all)
  • Molecular Medicine


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