To better understand vaccine-induced protection and its potential failure in light of recent whooping cough resurgence, we evaluated quantity as well as quality of memory T cell responses in B. pertussis-vaccinated preadolescent children. Using a technique based on flow cytometry to detect proliferation, cytokine production and phenotype of antigen-specific cells, we evaluated residual T cell memory in a cohort of preadolescents who received a whole-cell pertussis (wP; n=11) or an acellular pertussis vaccine (aP; n=13) during infancy, and with a median of 4 years elapsed from the last pertussis booster vaccine, which was aP for all children. We demonstrated that B. pertussis-specific memory T cells are detectable in the majority of preadolescent children several years after vaccination. CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell proliferation in response to pertussis toxin and/or filamentous hemagglutinin was detected in 79% and 60% of the children respectively, and interferon-γ or tumor necrosis factor-α producing CD4(+) T cells were detected in 65% and 53% of the children respectively. Phenotyping of the responding cells showed that the majority of antigen-specific cells, whether defined by proliferation or cytokine production, were CD45RA(-)CCR7(-) effector memory T cells. Although the time since the last booster vaccine was significantly longer for wP-compared to aP-vaccinated children, their proliferation capacity in response to antigenic stimulation was comparable, and more children had a detectable cytokine response after wP- compared to aP-vaccination. This study supports at the immunological level recent epidemiological studies indicating that infant vaccination with wP induces longer lasting immunity than vaccination with aP-vaccines.
Keywords: Acellular pertussis vaccine; Bordetella pertussis; Bp; Children; FHA; Immune response; Memory T cell; PBMC; PT; SEB; Staphylococcus enterotoxin B; Whole-cell pertussis vaccine; aP; acellular pertussis; filamentous hemagglutinin; peripheral blood mononuclear cells; pertussis toxin; wP; whole-cell pertussis.
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