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PLoS One. 2016 Apr 7;11(4):e0153195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153195. eCollection 2016.

Age Dependence of Immunity Induced by a Candidate Universal Influenza Vaccine in Mice.

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Division of Cellular and Gene Therapies, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America.


Influenza has a major impact on the elderly due to increased susceptibility to infection with age and poor response to current vaccines. We have studied universal influenza vaccine candidates based on influenza A nucleoprotein and matrix 2 (A/NP+M2). Long-lasting protection against influenza virus strains of divergent subtypes is induced, especially with mucosal immunization. Here, we tested universal vaccination in BALB/c mice of different ages. Vaccination used intramuscular DNA priming to A/NP+M2 followed by intranasal (i.n.) boosting with recombinant adenoviruses (rAd) expressing the same antigens, or only A/NP+M2-rAd given i.n. Antigen-specific systemic antibody responses were induced in young, middle-aged, and elderly mice (2, 11-17, and 20 months old, respectively), but decreased with age. Antibody responses in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were detected only in young mice. Antigen-specific T cell responses were seen in young and middle-aged but not elderly mice. A/NP+M2 vaccination by the two regimens above protected against stringent challenge in young and middle-aged mice, but not in elderly mice. However, mice vaccinated with A/NP-rAd or A/M2-rAd during their youth were partially protected against challenge 16 months later when they were elderly. In addition, a regimen of two doses of A/NP+M2-rAd given i.n. one month apart beginning in old age protected elderly mice against stringent challenge. This study highlights the potential benefit of cross-protective vaccines through middle age, and suggests that their performance might be enhanced in elderly individuals who had been exposed to influenza antigens early in life, as most humans have been, or by a two-dose rAd regimen given later in life.

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