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Mediators Inflamm. 2003 Aug;12(4):203-7.

Cytokine profile after rubella vaccine inoculation: evidence of the immunosuppressive effect of vaccination.

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  • 1Research Centre for Medical Genetics, 1 Moskvorechie Street, Moscow 115478, Russia.



Immunization with live virus vaccines may cause an immunosuppression with lymphopaenia, impaired cytokine production and defective lymphocyte response to mitogenes. These abnormalities were described in subjects vaccinated against measles. This study was performed to analyse the host immune response related to immunosuppression in subjects vaccinated with live attenuated rubella vaccine.


Eighteen schoolgirls, aged 11-13 years, were vaccinated with live attenuated rubella vaccine Rudivax. Before immunization, and 7 and 30 days after, peripheral blood was collected. Cellular fractions were subjected to flow cytometric analysis, and the lymphocyte response to phytohaemagglutinin was investigated. Plasma samples were analysed for cytokines (interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, tumour necrosis factor-alpha, and interferon-gamma) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay techniques.


On day 7 after vaccination, the number of each lymphocyte subset was decreased; however, only for CD3 and CD4 lymphocytes has a significant reduction been shown. On the contrary, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and IL-10 levels markedly increased and amounted to its maximum on day 30. Simultaneously, a significant reduction in plasma interferon-gamma and a profound decrease of the lymphocyte response to phytohaemagglutinin were shown. The changes were accompanied with marked elevation of plasma IL-4.


Our data indicate that the vaccination with live attenuated rubella vaccine results in moderate but sustained immune disturbance. The signs of immunosuppression, including defective lymphocyte response to mitogene and impaired cytokine production, may persist for at least 1 month after vaccination.

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