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Maternal antibodies protect offspring from severe influenza infection and do not lead to detectable interference with subsequent offspring immunization

van der Lubbe, Joan E. M., Vreugdenhil, Jessica, Damman, Sarra, Vaneman, Joost, Klap, Jaco, Goudsmit, Jaap, Radošević, Katarina, Roozendaal, Ramon
Virology journal 2017 v.14 no.1 pp. 123
animal models, antibodies, children, females, influenza, influenza vaccination, influenza vaccines, longevity, maternal immunity, mice, neonates, pregnant women
BACKGROUND: Various studies have shown that infants under the age of 6 months are especially vulnerable for complications due to influenza. Currently there are no vaccines licensed for use in this age group. Vaccination of pregnant women during the last trimester, recommended by the WHO as protective measure for this vulnerable female population, may provide protection of newborns at this early age. Although it has been observed that maternal vaccination can passively transfer protection, maternal antibodies could possibly also interfere with subsequent active vaccination of the offspring. METHODS: Using a mouse model, we evaluated in depth the ability of maternal influenza vaccination to protect offspring and the effect of maternal immunization on the subsequent influenza vaccination of the offspring. By varying the regimen of maternal immunization we explored the impact of different levels of maternal antibodies on the longevity of these antibodies in their progeny. We subsequently assessed to what extent maternal antibodies can mediate direct protection against influenza in their offspring, and whether these antibodies interfere with protection induced by active vaccination of the offspring. RESULTS: The number of immunizations of pregnant mice correlates to the level and longevity of maternal antibodies in the offspring. When these antibodies are present at time of influenza challenge they protect offspring against lethal influenza challenge, even in the absence of detectable HAI titers. Moreover, no detectable interference of passively-transferred maternal antibodies on the subsequent vaccination of the offspring was observed. CONCLUSION: In the absence of a licensed influenza vaccine for young children, vaccination of pregnant women is a promising measure to provide protection of young infants against severe influenza infection.