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J Infect Dis. 2012 Jul 15;206(2):158-66. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jis330. Epub 2012 May 2.

T-helper 1 cells elicited by H5N1 vaccination predict seroprotection.

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  • 1The Gade Institute, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.



Vaccination is the best measure to protect the population against a potential influenza H5N1 pandemic, but 2 doses of vaccine are needed to elicit protective immune responses. An immunological marker for H5N1 vaccine effectiveness is needed for early identification of the best vaccine candidate.


We conducted a phase I clinical trial of a virosomal H5N1 vaccine adjuvanted with Matrix M. Sixty adult volunteers were vaccinated intramuscularly with 2 doses of either 30 μg hemagglutinin (HA) alone or with 1.5, 7.5, or 30 μg HA and Matrix M adjuvant (50 μg). The humoral response was measured by the hemagglutination inhibition (HI), microneutralization (MN), and single radial hemolysis (SRH) assays, and the CD4(+) T-helper 1 (Th1)-cell response was measured by intracellular staining for the cytokines interleukin 2, interferon γ, and tumor necrosis factor α.


The adjuvanted vaccine effectively induced CD4(+) Th1-cell responses, and the frequency of influenza-specific Th1 cells after the first vaccine dose predicted subsequent HI, MN, and SRH seroprotective responses after the second vaccination.


These results support early identification of Th1-cell responses as a predictive biomarker for an efficient vaccine response, which could have great implications for early identification of persons with low or no response to vaccine when evaluating future pandemic influenza vaccines.

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