Strain specificities in influence of ageing on germinal centre reaction to inactivated influenza virus antigens in mice: Sex-based differences

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Considering variability in vaccine responsiveness across human populations, in respect to magnitude and quality, and importance of vaccines in the elderly, the influence of recipient genetic background on the kinetics of age-related changes in the serum IgG antibody responses to seasonal trivalent inactivated split-virus influenza bulk (TIV) was studied in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice showing quantitative and qualitative differences in this responses in young adult ages. With ageing the total serum IgG response to influenza viruses declined, in a strain-specific manner, so the strain disparity observed in young adult mice (the greater magnitude of IgG response in BALB/c mice) disappeared in aged mice. However, the sexual dimorphisms in this response (more prominent in females of both strains) remained in aged ones. The strain-specific differences in age-related decline in the magnitude of IgG response to TIV correlated with the number of germinal centre (GC) B splenocytes. The age-related decline in GC B cell number was consistent with the decrease in the proliferation of B cells and CD4+ cells in splenocyte cultures upon restimulation with TIV. Additionally, the age-related decrease in the magnitude of IgG response correlated with the increase in follicular T regulatory (fTreg)/follicular T helper (fTh) and fTreg/GC B splenocyte ratios (reflecting decrease in fTh and GC B numbers without changes in fTreg number), and the frequency of CD4+ splenocytes producing IL-21, a key factor in balancing the B cell and fTreg cell activity. With ageing the avidity of virus influenza-specific antibody increased in females of both strains. Moreover, ageing affected IgG2a/IgG1 and IgG2c/IgG1 ratios (reflecting Th1/Th2 balance) in male BALB/c mice and female C57BL/6 mice, respectively. Consequently, differently from young mice exhibiting the similar ratios in male and female mice, in aged female mice of both strains IgG2a(c)/IgG1 ratios were shifted towards a less effective IgG1 response (stimulated by IL-4 cytokines) compared with males. The age-related alterations in IgG subclass profiles in both strains correlated with those in IFN-γ/IL-4 production level ratio in splenocyte cultures restimulated with TIV. These findings stimulate further research to formulate sex-specific strategies to improve efficacy of influenza vaccine in the elderly.




Bufan, B., Arsenović-Ranin, N., Petrović, R., Živković, I., Stoiljković, V., & Leposavić, G. (2020). Strain specificities in influence of ageing on germinal centre reaction to inactivated influenza virus antigens in mice: Sex-based differences. Experimental Gerontology, 133.

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