Vaccines represent one of the most compelling examples of how biomedical research has improved society by saving lives and dramatically reducing the burden of infectious disease. Despite the importance of vaccinology, we are still in the early stages of understanding how the best vaccines work and how we can achieve better protective efficacy through improved vaccine design. Most successful vaccines have been developed empirically, but recent advances in immunology are beginning to shed new light on the mechanisms of vaccine-mediated protection and development of long-term immunity. Although natural infection will often elicit lifelong immunity, almost all current vaccines require booster vaccination in order to achieve durable protective humoral immune responses, regardless of whether the vaccine is based on infection with replicating live-attenuated vaccine strains of the specific pathogen or whether they are derived from immunization with inactivated, non-replicating vaccines or subunit vaccines. The form of the vaccine antigen (e.g., soluble or particulate/aggregate) appears to play an important role in determining immunogenicity and the interactions between dendritic cells, B cells and T cells in the germinal center are likely to dictate the magnitude and duration of protective immunity. By learning how to optimize these interactions, we may be able to elicit more effective and long-lived immunity with fewer vaccinations.
Keywords: Antibody; Immunological memory; Protection; Vaccination.
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