Correlates of Protection against Influenza in the Elderly: Results from an Influenza Vaccine Efficacy Trial

Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2016 Jan 13;23(3):228-35. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00604-15.


Although a number of studies have investigated and quantified immune correlates of protection against influenza in adults and children, data on immune protection in the elderly are sparse. A recent vaccine efficacy trial comparing standard-dose with high-dose inactivated influenza vaccine in persons 65 years of age and older provided the opportunity to examine the relationship between values of three immunologic assays and protection against community-acquired A/H3N2 influenza illness. The high-dose vaccine induced significantly higher antibody titers than the standard-dose vaccine for all assays. For the hemagglutination inhibition assay, a titer of 40 was found to correspond with 50% protection when the assay virus was antigenically well matched to the circulating virus--the same titer as is generally recognized for 50% protection in younger adults. A dramatically higher titer was required for 50% protection when the assay virus was a poor match to the circulating virus. With the well-matched virus, some protection was seen at the lowest titers; with the poorly matched virus, high levels of protection were not achieved even at the highest titers. Strong associations were also seen between virus neutralization test titers and protection, but reliable estimates for 50% protection were not obtained. An association was seen between titers of an enzyme-linked lectin assay for antineuraminidase N2 antibodies and protection; in particular, the proportion of treatment effect explained by assay titer in models that included both this assay and one of the other assays was consistently higher than in models that included either assay alone. (This study has been registered at under registration no. NCT01427309.).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Clinical Trial, Phase IV
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology*
  • Influenza, Human / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Neuraminidase / immunology
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Inactivated
  • Neuraminidase

Associated data


Grant support

This work was supported by Sanofi Pasteur.