Oral mucosal vaccines have great promise for generating protective immunity against intestinal infections for the benefit of large numbers of people especially young children. There however appears to be a caveat since these vaccines have to overcome the inbuilt resistance of mucosal surfaces and secretions to inhibit antigen stimulation and responses. Unfortunately, these vaccines are not equally immunogenic nor protective in different populations. When compared to industrialized countries, children living in developing countries appear to have lower responses, but the reasons for these lowered responses are not clearly defined. The most likely explanations relate to undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, microbial overload on mucosal surfaces, alteration of microbiome and microbolom and irreversible changes on the mucosa as well as maternal antibodies in serum or breast milk may alter the mucosal pathology and lower immune responses to interventions using oral vaccines. The detrimental effect of adverse environment and malnutrition may bring about irreversible changes in the mucosa of children especially in the first 1000 days of life from conception to after birth and up to two years of age. This review aims to summarize the information available on lowered immune responses to mucosal vaccines and on interventions that may help address the constraints of these vaccines when they are used for children living under the greatest stress and under harmful adverse circumstances.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.