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Little is known about cell-mediated immune responses to natural influenza infection in solid organ transplant (SOT) patients. The aim of our study was to evaluate the CD4+ and CD8+ responses to influenza A and B infection in a cohort of SOT patients. We collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells at influenza diagnosis and four weeks later from 31 SOT patients during the 2017–2018 influenza season. Infection-elicited influenza-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses were measured using flow cytometry and intracellular cytokine staining and compared to responses following influenza vaccine in SOT patients. Natural infection was associated with a significant increase in CD4+ T-cell responses. For example, polyfunctional cells increased from 21 to 782 and from 193 to 1436 cells per 106 CD4+ T-cells among influenza A/H3N2 and B-infected patients (p = 0.006 and 0.004 respectively). Moreover, infection-elicited CD4+ responses were superior than vaccine-elicited responses for influenza A/H1N1 (931 vs 1; p = 0.026), A/H3N2 (647 vs 1; p = 0.041) and B (619 vs 1; p = 0.004). Natural influenza infection triggers a significant increase in CD4+ T-cell responses in SOT patients. Infection elicits significantly stronger CD4+ responses compared to the influenza vaccine and thereby likely elicits better protection against reinfection.
L’Huillier, A. G., Ferreira, V. H., Hirzel, C., Nellimarla, S., Ku, T., Natori, Y., … Kumar, D. (2020). T-cell responses following Natural Influenza Infection or Vaccination in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients. Scientific Reports, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67172-6