Immune response to influenza vaccine in children with inflammatory bowel disease

Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Feb;104(2):444-53. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2008.120. Epub 2009 Jan 27.


Objectives: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) frequently receive immunosuppressive therapy. The immune response in these patients to vaccines has not been well studied. We conducted a prospective, open label study to evaluate the serologic response to influenza vaccine in children with IBD.

Methods: Serum was obtained from 146 children and young adults with IBD (96 Crohn's disease, 47 ulcerative colitis, and 3 indeterminate colitis) for baseline influenza titer, immediately followed by immunization with trivalent (A/Solomon Islands/3/2006 (H1N1), A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2), and B/Malaysia/2506/2004 (B)) inactivated influenza vaccine. Patients returned for repeat titers 3-9 weeks later. Seroprotection against each influenza strain was defined as hemagglutination inhibition titer > or = 40. Patients were categorized as nonimmunosuppressed (NIS; aminosalicylates only, antibiotics only, or no therapy) or immunosuppressed (IS; any immunosuppressive agent). IS patients were further subcategorized as: (i) tacrolimus, (ii) tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitor, (3) immunomodulator, and (4) corticosteroids only.

Results: More patients were seroprotected against strains A/H1N1 and A/H3N2 than B strain (P<0.02), regardless of immunosuppression status. The proportion of seroprotected patients and geometric mean titers at post-vaccination were similar between NIS and IS groups for all three strains. Subanalysis of patients not seroprotected at baseline showed that those receiving anti-TNF therapy were less likely to be seroprotected against strain B (14%) compared to patients in the NIS group (39%, P=0.025). There were no serious vaccine-associated adverse events.

Conclusions: Influenza vaccination produces a high prevalence of seroprotection in IBD patients, particularly against A strains. The vaccine is well tolerated. Routine influenza vaccination in IBD patients is recommended, irrespective of whether patients receive immunosuppressive medications.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / virology
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza B virus / immunology*
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Viral Load
  • Young Adult


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Influenza Vaccines