Indexed on: 22 Nov '05Published on: 22 Nov '05Published in: Clinical & Experimental Immunology
Immunity to measles is conferred by the interplay of humoral and cellular immune responses, the latter being critical in maintaining long-term recall response. Therefore, it is important to evaluate measles-specific humoral and cellular immunity in populations several years after vaccination and understand the correlations among these measures of immunity. We examined measles-specific antibodies, lymphoproliferation and the Th1/Th2 signature cytokines, interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-4, in a population-based cohort of healthy children from Olmsted County, Minnesota after two doses of measles-mumps-rubella-II (MMR-II) vaccine. We detected positive measures of measles-specific cellular and humoral immunity in the majority of our study population. However, a small proportion of subjects demonstrated an immune response skewed towards the Th2 type, characterized by the presence of either IL-4 and/or measles-specific antibodies and a lack of IFN-gamma production. Further, we observed a significant positive correlation between lymphoproliferation and secretion of IFN-gamma (r = 0.20, P = 0.0002) and IL-4 (r = 0.15, P = 0.005). Measles antibody levels were correlated with lymphoproliferation (r = 0.12, P = 0.03), but lacked correlation to either cytokine type. In conclusion, we demonstrated the presence of both long-term cellular and humoral responses after MMR-II vaccination in a significant proportion of study subjects. Further, a positive correlation between lymphoproliferation and IL-4 and IFN-gamma suggests that immunity to measles may be maintained by both Th1 and Th2 cells. We speculate that the Th2 biased response observed in a subset of our subjects may be insufficient to provide long-term immunity against measles. Further examination of the determinants of Th1 versus Th2 skewing of the immune response and long-term follow-up is needed.