Enhancement of immunity against VZV by giving live varicella vaccine to the elderly assessed by VZV skin test and IAHA, gpELISA antibody assay

Vaccine. 2003 Sep 8;21(25-26):3845-53. doi: 10.1016/s0264-410x(03)00303-7.


The enhancement of immunity against varicella-zoster vaccine (VZV) by subcutaneous injection of a live varicella vaccine was assessed by the VZV skin test for cell-mediated immunity (CMI), and immunoadherence hemagglutination assay (IAHA) and gpELISA antibody assays in the elderly people of 50-79 years of age. A total of 127 subjects were examined: 79 aged 50-59, 25 aged 60-69, and 25 aged 70-79. All were seropositive by the gpELISA assay (one was seronegative in the IAHA antibody assay). In contrast, a notable decline was observed in the VZV skin test with increasing age. Negative reaction was observed in 16/79 (20.2%) of the subjects in their 50s, 12/25 (48.0%) in their 60s and 14/25 (56.0%) in the 70s. After the vaccination, the results of the VZV skin test changed from negative to positive in 15/16 (91.8%) of subjects in their 50s, 11/12 (91.7%) in their 60s and 12/14 (85.7%) in their 70s. The mean antibody titer in the IAHA and the gpELISA increased approximately two-fold after the vaccination in each group. Immunity to VZV in 35 elderly subjects who were vaccinated previously was followed up for 4 years. All were positive by the VZV skin test after the previous vaccination. After 4 years, 31 (88.6%) were positive by the skin test, 4 were negative and became positive after revaccination. Although this study was uncontrolled open study, the results suggest that administering live varicella vaccine to the elderly is effective for enhancing immunity, particularly CMI to VZV.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged / physiology*
  • Aging / immunology
  • Chickenpox / immunology*
  • Chickenpox / pathology
  • Chickenpox / prevention & control*
  • Chickenpox Vaccine / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemagglutination Tests
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Tests
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / immunology


  • Chickenpox Vaccine
  • Vaccines, Attenuated