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BACKGROUND: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes respiratory disease throughout life. Here we report differences in naturally acquired immunity with age and presumed exposure. METHODS: A longitudinal, non-interventional, observational study was performed in healthy adults (20 paediatric healthcare workers and 10 non-healthcare workers), children (10 aged 3-6 years) and infants (5 aged 2-4 months and 20 aged 6-12 months). Blood samples were analysed for RSV-neutralising antibody titre, F/Ga/Gb-specific antibody titres, F-specific IgG/IgA memory B-cell frequencies and T-cell production of IFNγ, IL-4, IL-13 and IL-17. RESULTS: Serum G-specific antibody titres were significantly lower in infants and children than adults. However, serum titres of F-specific and RSV-neutralising antibody and IFNγ-producing T-cell frequencies were low or absent in the infants, but comparable between children and adults. Interestingly, F-specific memory IgA B-cells could not be detected in paediatric samples and in samples from non-healthcare workers, but recordable IgA memory B-cells were found in 9/18 paediatric healthcare workers and 2/8 non-healthcare workers at the end of the RSV season. These responses waned 4-6 months later. By contrast, F-specific IgG memory B-cells were detectable in samples from all adults without significant variation across time points. T-cells producing IL-4, IL-13 and IL-17 responses were not detectable in peripheral blood from a subset of volunteers. CONCLUSIONS: Repeated RSV exposure in early life generates immune responses that are inversely related to frequency of severe disease. Induction of F-specific antibody and cellular immune responses through infant vaccination might help to accelerate the development of protective immune responses at an early age. Clinicaltrials.gov reference NCT01563692 and NCT01640652.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.08.056

Type

Journal article

Journal

Vaccine

Publication Date

31/08/2018

Keywords

Healthcare workers, Immune responses, Infants, Respiratory syncytial virus