Researchers have identified several genes and gene clusters associated with the immune response to flu vaccination.
Researchers have identified several genes and gene clusters associated with the immune response to flu vaccination. The findings, published in the journal Science Immunology, point to the prospect of using genetic profiles to predict individual responses to the flu vaccine. Vaccination is the best way to protect against flu infection, yet the effectiveness of the vaccine varies widely among individuals. To explore the role of genes in the immune response to flu vaccination, the researchers and their collaborators used data collected from more than 500 individuals who provided blood samples before and after being vaccinated. Analysing the data, the research team identified several gene “signatures,” or groups of genes, that were associated with a stronger response to the flu vaccine. The response was determined by increases in antibodies that protect against infection.
The team was “able to identify genes at baseline, before vaccination, that would predict how individuals would respond to the vaccine,” said study a co-author Ruth Montgomery, Associate Professor at Yale School of Medicine, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, US. The researchers also found that the while the genes were predictive of a robust vaccine response in adults younger than age 35, those same genes did not improve responses in adults over age 60.
“Another finding is that genes that contribute to good immune response are different in young and older people,” Montgomery noted. The reasons for these age differences warrant further study, the researchers said.