Background: The decline in influenza vaccine efficacy in older adults is associated with a limited ability of current split-virus vaccines (SVVs) to stimulate cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses required for clinical protection against influenza.
Methods: The Toll-like receptor 4 agonist glucopyranosyl lipid adjuvant-stable emulsion (GLA-SE) was combined with SVV to stimulate peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in vitro to determine the cytokine response in dendritic cell subsets. Stimulated PBMCs were then challenged with live influenza virus to mimic the response to natural infection following vaccination, using previously identified T-cell correlates of protection.
Results: GLA-SE significantly increased the proportion of myeloid dendritic cells that produced tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin 6, and interleukin 12. When combined with SVV to stimulate PBMCs in vitro, this effect of GLA-SE was shown to regulate a T-helper 1 cell response upon challenge with live influenza virus; interleukin 10 production was suppressed, thus significantly increasing the interferon γ to interleukin 10 ratio and the cytolytic (granzyme B) response to influenza virus challenge, both of which have been shown to correlate with protection against influenza in older adults.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that a novel adjuvant, GLA-SE, combined with standard SVV has the potential to significantly improve vaccine-mediated protection against influenza in older adults.