Loss of antibodies and response to (re-)vaccination in children after treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia: a systematic review

Leukemia. 2006 Oct;20(10):1717-22. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2404326. Epub 2006 Aug 3.


Intensified chemotherapy regimens resulting in improved survival of children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) lead to concerns about therapy-induced immune damage reflected by the loss of protection of previous immunizations and the efficacy of (re-)vaccination. The severity of secondary immunodeficiency, however, is not clear and knowledge is based on a limited number of studies. We performed a systematic review on literature concerning vaccination data of children with ALL published since 1980. Eight studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Regarding antibody titers after treatment, the number of children who had preserved the defined protection level for antibodies differed widely, ranging from 17 to 98% for diphtheria, 27 to 82% for Bordetella pertussis, 20 to 98% for tetanus, 62 to 100% for poliomyelitis, 35 to 100% for Haemophilus influenzae type B (HiB), 29 to 92% for mumps, 29 to 60% for measles and 72 to 92% for rubella. Most patients however responded to revaccination, demonstrating immunological recovery. Although the designs and results of the included studies varied widely, it can be concluded that cytostatic therapy for ALL in children results in a temporarily reduction of specific antibody levels. Memory is preserved but revaccination may be warranted. This is the first systematic review and the best possible current approximation of chemotherapy-induced immune damage in children after ALL treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / blood*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Vaccination*
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Vaccines