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BACKGROUND: Detailed analysis of the immunological pathways leading to robust vaccine responses has become possible with the application of systems biology, including transcriptomic analysis. Venous blood is usually obtained for such studies but others have obtained capillary blood (e.g. finger-prick). Capillary samples are practically advantageous, especially in children. METHODS: The aim of this study was to compare gene expression profiles in venous and capillary blood before, 12h and 24h after vaccination with 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide or trivalent inactivated seasonal influenza vaccines. RESULTS: Gene expression at baseline was markedly different between venous and capillary samples, with 4940 genes differentially expressed, and followed a different pattern of changes after vaccination. At baseline, multiple pathways were upregulated in venous compared to capillary blood, including transforming growth factor-beta receptor signalling and toll-like receptor cascades. After vaccination with the influenza vaccine, there was enrichment for T and NK cell related signatures in capillary blood, and monocyte signatures in venous blood. By contrast, after vaccination with the pneumococcal vaccination, there was enrichment of dendritic cells, monocytes and interferon related signatures in capillary blood, whilst at 24h there was enrichment for T and NK cell related signatures in venous blood. CONCLUSIONS: These data show differences between venous and capillary gene expression both at baseline, and post vaccination, which may impact on the conclusions regarding immunological mechanisms drawn from studies using these different sampling methodologies.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





5306 - 5313


Genomics, Immunity, Systems biology, Vaccines, Adolescent, Adult, Blood, Capillaries, Genomics, Hemagglutination Inhibition Tests, Humans, Influenza Vaccines, Interferons, Middle Aged, Pneumococcal Vaccines, Signal Transduction, Systems Biology, Transcriptome, Vaccines, Veins, Young Adult