New approaches to understanding the immune response to vaccination and infection

Vaccine. 2015 Sep 29;33(40):5271-81. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.06.117. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


The immune system is a network of specialized cell types and tissues that communicates via cytokines and direct contact, to orchestrate specific types of defensive responses. Until recently, we could only study immune responses in a piecemeal, highly focused fashion, on major components like antibodies to the pathogen. But recent advances in technology and in our understanding of the many components of the system, innate and adaptive, have made possible a broader approach, where both the multiple responding cells and cytokines in the blood are measured. This systems immunology approach to a vaccine response or an infection gives us a more holistic picture of the different parts of the immune system that are mobilized and should allow us a much better understanding of the pathways and mechanisms of such responses, as well as to predict vaccine efficacy in different populations well in advance of efficacy studies. Here we summarize the different technologies and methods and discuss how they can inform us about the differences between diseases and vaccines, and how they can greatly accelerate vaccine development.

Keywords: Computational immunology; Elastic net; Feature selection; High-throughput methods; Human immunology; Immune profiling; Regularization; Systems immunology; Vaccinology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Genomics / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Systems Biology / methods*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Vaccines