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Aging Dis. 2012 Feb;3(1):51-67. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

Immune Responses to pneumococcal vaccines in children and adults: Rationale for age-specific vaccination.

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University of Toledo, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Department of Pathology, Toledo OH 43614, USA.


Streptococcus pneumoniae is a significant human pathogen and currently available pneumococcal vaccines are designed to elicit anti-capsule antibodies. The 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine has been used in older adults for many years whereas 7-, 10-, and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have only been used commonly for young children in the last decade. In addition to their high protective efficacy among children, the use of conjugate vaccines in young children has had a number of additional effects, including production of a serotype shift and providing new herd immunity to adults. The immunogenicity of both of these types of vaccines can be determined by using an ELISA assay to measure antibody levels or an opsonophagocytosis assay to assess opsonic function. As these assays have improved over time, awareness of the analytical limitations of older studies has grown. While the 23-valent vaccine is effective among young adults, it is less effective among elderly adults. Aging-associated ineffectiveness may be due to aging-dependent changes in the antibody repertoire and/or a reduction in IgM antibody production associated with aging-dependent changes in B cell subpopulations. The immunologic basis of aging-associated immune defects thus remains an active area of research.


Aging; Antibody repertoire; B cells; Pneumococcus; Vaccine

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