Background: Identifying polio vaccine regimens that can elicit robust intestinal mucosal immunity and interrupt viral transmission is a key priority of the polio endgame.
Methods: In a 2013 Chilean clinical trial (NCT01841671) of trivalent inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV; targeting types 1 and 3), infants were randomized to receive IPV-bOPV-bOPV, IPV-IPV-bOPV, or IPV-IPV-IPV at 8, 16, and 24 weeks of age and challenged with monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 (mOPV2) at 28 weeks. Using fecal samples collected from 152 participants, we investigated the extent to which IPV-bOPV and IPV-only immunization schedules induced intestinal neutralizing activity and immunoglobulin A against polio types 1 and 2.
Results: Overall, 37% of infants in the IPV-bOPV groups and 26% in the IPV-only arm had detectable type 2-specific stool neutralization after the primary vaccine series. In contrast, 1 challenge dose of mOPV2 induced brisk intestinal immune responses in all vaccine groups, and significant rises in type 2-specific stool neutralization titers (P < .0001) and immunoglobulin A concentrations (P < 0.0001) were measured 2 weeks after the challenge. In subsidiary analyses, duration of breastfeeding also appeared to be associated with the magnitude of polio-specific mucosal immune parameters measured in infant fecal samples.
Conclusions: Taken together, these results underscore the concept that mucosal and systemic immune responses to polio are separate in their induction, functionality, and potential impacts on transmission and, specifically, provide evidence that primary vaccine regimens lacking homologous live vaccine components are likely to induce only modest, type-specific intestinal immunity.