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Vaccine. 2004 Dec 9;23(4):444-9.

Measles vaccination in the presence of maternal antibodies primes for a balanced humoral and cellular response to revaccination.

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Center for the Study of Host Resistance, Montreal General Hospital, McGill University, 1650 Cedar Avenue, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1A4.


Early or low dose antigen exposure can prime the immune system for subsequent responses; the so-called "prime-boost" effect. In the context of a Sudanese measles vaccine trial, we assessed whether or not such early exposure could influence the response to revaccination. Children received either Connaught high titer vaccine (CN: n = 53; 10(4.7)pfu) or meningococcal A + C vaccine as a placebo (MEN: n = 58) at 5 months of age. At 9 months of age, all received standard titer Schwarz vaccine (SCH: 10(3.9)pfu). Neutralizing antibodies were measured before initial vaccination and at 9 months of age (plaque reduction neutralization assay (PRN)) and again at 5 years of age (syncytium inhibition assay (SIA)). Lymphoproliferative responses to measles virus (MV) antigens were evaluated at 5 years of age. Eleven of the 53 CN-SCH children (21%) had sub-protective neutralizing antibody titers prior to revaccination (log PRN 1.5 +/- 0.03 versus 2.9 +/- 0.07 in the remaining 42 children; P < 0.004). Maternal antibody titers at the time of initial vaccination in these 11 were high (PRN 2.44 +/- 0.12 versus 1.9 +/- 0.04; P < 0.0001). At 5 years of age, neutralizing antibodies were comparable in the 11 CN-SCH poor responders (log SIA 2.1 +/- 0.09), the remaining CN-SCH children (2.2 +/- 0.06) and the MEN-SCH group vaccinated only once at 9 months of age (2.25 +/- 0.06). In contrast, 7/11 of the CN-SCH poor responders (64%) had stimulation indices (SI) > 3 in response to MV antigens at 5 years of age (SI 3.1 +/- 0.6) compared with only 14% in the remaining children of the CN-SCH group (2.0 +/- 0.3; P = 0.05) and 8% in the MEN-SCH group (1.4 +/- 0.2; P < 0.0003). These data suggest that early measles vaccination in the presence of maternal antibodies can sometimes prime for a balanced humoral and cellular immune response to subsequent revaccination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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