Background: The recommendation by the American Society of Transplantation for annual trivalent inactivated influenza vaccination greater than 3 to 6 months post-kidney transplantation provides a unique opportunity to test the in vivo impact of immunosuppression on recall T- and B-cell responses to influenza vaccination.
Methods: This study took advantage of recent breakthroughs in the single-cell quantification of human peripheral blood B-cell responses to prospectively evaluate both B- and T-cell responses to the seasonal (2010 and 2011) influenza vaccine in 23 stable renal transplant recipients and 22 healthy controls.
Results and conclusion: The results demonstrate that the early B-cell response to influenza vaccination, quantified by the frequency of influenza-specific antibody-secreting cells (ASC) in peripheral blood, was significantly reduced in stable transplant recipients compared to healthy controls. The magnitude of the seroresponse and the rate of seroconversion were also blunted. The influenza-specific interferon-gamma (IFNγ) T-cell response was significantly reduced in transplant recipients; however, there was no correlation between the magnitude of the influenza-specific IgG ASC and IFNγ responses. The induction of memory T- and B-cell responses to influenza vaccination supports the recommendation to vaccinate while the blunted responses demonstrate the efficacy of immunosuppression in controlling memory responses individual transplant recipients.