Objective: In the U.S., seasonal trivalent influenza virus vaccine (TIV) is currently universally recommended for all pregnant women. However, data on the maternal inflammatory response to vaccination is lacking and would better delineate the safety and clinical utility of immunization. In addition, for research purposes, vaccination has been used as a mild immune trigger to examine in vivo inflammatory responses in nonpregnant adults. The utility of such a model in pregnancy is unknown. Given the clinical and empirical justifications, the current study examined the magnitude, time course, and variance in inflammatory responses following seasonal influenza virus vaccination among pregnant women.
Methods: Women were assessed prior to and at one day (n=15), two days (n=10), or approximately one week (n=21) following TIV. Serum interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, C-reactive protein (CRP), and macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) were determined by high sensitivity immunoassay.
Results: Significant increases in CRP were seen at one and two days post-vaccination (ps<05). A similar effect was seen for TNF-α, for which an increase at two days post-vaccination approached statistical significance (p=.06). There was considerable variability in magnitude of response; coefficients of variation for change at two days post-vaccination ranged from 122% to 728%, with the greatest variability in IL-6 responses at this timepoint.
Conclusions: Trivalent influenza virus vaccination elicits a measurable inflammatory response among pregnant women. There is sufficient variability in response for testing associations with clinical outcomes. As adverse perinatal health outcomes including preeclampsia and preterm birth have an inflammatory component, a tendency toward greater inflammatory responding to immune triggers may predict risk of adverse outcomes, providing insight into biological mechanisms underlying risk. The inflammatory response elicited by vaccination is substantially milder and more transient than seen in infectious illness, arguing for the clinical value of vaccination. However, further research is needed to confirm that the mild inflammatory response elicited by vaccination is benign in pregnancy.
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