Ju CH, Blum LK, Kongpachith S, Lingampalli N, Mao R, Brodin P, Dekker CL, Davis MM, Robinson WH
Clin. Immunol. 193 (-) 70-79 [2018-08-00; online 2018-02-02]
Seasonal influenza vaccines elicit antibody responses that can prevent infection, but their efficacy is reduced in the elderly. While a subset of elderly individuals can still mount sufficient vaccine-induced antibody responses, little is known about the properties of the vaccine-induced antibody repertoires in elderly as compared to young responders. To gain insights into the effects of aging on influenza vaccine-induced antibody responses, we used flow cytometry and a cell-barcoding method to sequence antibody heavy and light chain gene pairs expressed by individual blood plasmablasts generated in response to influenza vaccination in elderly (aged 70-89) and young (aged 20-29) responders. We found similar blood plasmablast levels in the elderly and young responders seven days post vaccination. Informatics analysis revealed increased clonality, but similar heavy chain V(D)J gene usage in the elderly as compared to young vaccine responders. Although the elderly responders exhibited decreased antibody sequence diversity and fewer consequential mutations relative to young responders, recombinant antibodies from elderly responders bound a broader range of influenza strain HAs. Thus elderly influenza vaccine responders mount plasmablast responses with restricted diversity but with an increased breadth of binding across influenza strains. Our results suggest that the ability to generate plasmablast responses encoding cross-strain binding antibodies likely represents a mechanism important to vaccine responses in the elderly.