Vaccines represent a potent tool to prevent or contain infectious diseases with high morbidity or mortality. However, despite their widespread use, we still have a limited understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effective elicitation of protective immune responses by vaccines. Recent research suggests that this represents the cooperative action of the innate and adaptive immune systems. Immunity is made of a multifaceted set of integrated responses involving a dynamic interaction of thousands of molecules, whose list is constantly updated to fill the several empty spaces of this puzzle. The recent development of new technologies and computational tools permits the comprehensive and quantitative analysis of the interactions between all of the components of immunity over time. Here, we review the role of the innate immunity in the host response to vaccine antigens and the potential of systems biology in providing relevant and novel insights in the mechanisms of action of vaccines to improve their design and effectiveness.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.