A number of factors are recognized to influence immune responses to vaccinations including age, gender, the dose, and quality of the antigen used, the number of doses given, the route of administration, and the nutritional status of the recipient. Additionally, several immunogenetic studies have identified associations between polymorphisms in genes encoding immune response proteins, both innate and adaptive, and variation in responses to vaccines. Variants in the genes encoding Toll-like receptors, HLA molecules, cytokines, and cytokine receptors have associated with heterogeneity of responses to a wide range of vaccines including measles, hepatitis B, influenza A, BCG, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and certain Neisseria meningitidis serotypes, amongst others. However, the vast majority of these studies have been conducted in older children and adults and there are very few data available from studies conducted in infants. This paper reviews the evidence to date that host genes influencing vaccines responses in these older population and identifies a large gap in our understanding of the genetic regulation of responses in early life. Given the high mortality from infection in early life and the challenges of developing vaccines that generate effective immune responses in the context of the developing immune system further research on infant populations is required.
Keywords: GWAS; SNPs; candidate gene; transcriptional profiling.