HIV-infected patients of all ages frequently underperform in response to seasonal influenza vaccination, despite virologic control of HIV. The molecular mechanisms governing this impairment, as well as predictive biomarkers for responsiveness, remain unknown. This study was performed in samples obtained prevaccination (T0) from HIV-infected children who received the 2012-2013 seasonal influenza vaccine. Response status was determined based on established criterion for hemagglutination inhibition titer; participants with a hemagglutination titer 1:40 plus a 4-fold increase over T0 at 3 wk postvaccination were designated as responders. All children had a history of prior influenza vaccinations. At T0, the frequencies of CD4 T cell subsets, including peripheral T follicular helper (pTfh) cells, which provide help to B cells for developing into Ab-secreting cells, were similar between responders and nonresponders. However, in response to in vitro stimulation with influenza A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) Ag, differential gene expression related to pTfh cell function was observed by Fluidigm high-density RT-PCR between responders and nonresponders. In responders, H1N1 stimulation at T0 also resulted in CXCR5 induction (mRNA and protein) in CD4 T cells and IL21 gene induction in pTfh cells that were strongly associated with H1N1-specific B cell responses postvaccination. In contrast, CD4 T cells of nonresponders exhibited increased expression of IL2 and STAT5 genes, which are known to antagonize peripheral Tfh cell function. These results suggest that the quality of pTfh cells at the time of immunization is important for influenza vaccine responses and provide a rationale for targeted, ex vivo Ag-driven molecular profiling of purified immune cells to detect predictive biomarkers of the vaccine response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas