Influence of immune aging on vaccine responses

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020 May;145(5):1309-1321. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2020.03.017.


Impaired vaccine responses in older individuals are associated with alterations in both the quantity and quality of the T-cell compartment with age. As reviewed herein, the T-cell response to vaccination requires a fine balance between the generation of inflammatory effector T cells versus follicular helper T (TFH) cells that mediate high-affinity antibody production in tandem with the induction of long-lived memory cells for effective recall immunity. During aging, we find that this balance is tipped where T cells favor short-lived effector but not memory or TFH responses. Consistently, vaccine-induced antibodies commonly display a lower protective capacity. Mechanistically, multiple, potentially targetable, changes in T cells have been identified that contribute to these age-related defects, including posttranscription regulation, T-cell receptor signaling, and metabolic function. Although research into the induction of tissue-specific immunity by vaccines and with age is still limited, current mechanistic insights provide a framework for improved design of age-specific vaccination strategies that require further evaluation in a clinical setting.

Keywords: T cells; T-cell receptor; Vaccination; age; antibody; recall response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Vaccination*
  • Vaccines


  • Vaccines