Influenza vaccine is known to have suboptimal immunogenicity in transplant recipients. Despite this, influenza vaccine may have the added benefit of inducing a cross-reactive immune response to viral strains not found in the vaccine. This is termed “heterologous immunity” and has not been assessed previously in transplant patients. Pre- and postvaccination sera from kidney transplant recipients (n = 60) immunized with the 2012–2013 adjuvanted or nonadjuvanted influenza vaccine underwent testing by hemagglutination inhibition assay for strains not present in vaccine: A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1), A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2) and B/Brisbane/60/2008. The geometric mean titer of antibody to heterologous strains increased after vaccine (H1N1: 80.0 to 136.1, p < 0.001; H3N2: 23.3 to 77.3, p < 0.001; B: 13.3 to 19.5, p < 0.001). Seroconversion rates were 16.7%, 41.7%, and 13.3%, respectively. No differences in heterologous response were seen in the adjuvanted versus nonadjuvanted groups. Patients were more likely to seroconvert for a cross-reactive antigen if they seroconverted for the specific vaccine antigen. Seroconversion to heterologous A/H3N2, for example, was 84.0% for homologous H3N2 seroconverters versus 11.4% for nonseroconverters (p < 0.001). This study provides novel evidence that transplant recipients are able to mount significant cross-protective responses to influenza vaccine that may be an additional, previously unknown benefit of immunization.
- clinical research/practice
- infection and infectious agents
- infectious disease
- viral: influenza