The goal of annual influenza vaccination is to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with this disease through the generation of protective immune responses. The objective of the current study was to examine markers of immunosenescence and identify immunosenescence-related differences in gene expression, gene regulation, cytokine secretion, and immunologic changes in an older study population receiving seasonal influenza A/H1N1 vaccination. Surprisingly, prior studies in this cohort revealed weak correlations between immunosenescence markers and humoral immune response to vaccination. In this report, we further examined the relationship of each immunosenescence marker (age, T cell receptor excision circle frequency, telomerase expression, percentage of CD28- CD4+ T cells, percentage of CD28- CD8+ T cells, and the CD4/CD8 T cell ratio) with additional markers of immune response (serum cytokine and chemokine expression) and measures of gene expression and/or regulation. Many of the immunosenescence markers indeed correlated with distinct sets of individual DNA methylation sites, miRNA expression levels, mRNA expression levels, serum cytokines, and leukocyte subsets. However, when the individual immunosenescence markers were grouped by pathways or functional terms, several shared biological functions were identified: antigen processing and presentation pathways, MAPK, mTOR, TCR, BCR, and calcium signaling pathways, as well as key cellular metabolic, proliferation and survival activities. Furthermore, the percent of CD4+ and/or CD8+ T cells lacking CD28 expression also correlated with miRNAs regulating clusters of genes known to be involved in viral infection. Integrated (DNA methylation, mRNA, miRNA, and protein levels) network biology analysis of immunosenescence-related pathways and genesets identified both known pathways (e.g., chemokine signaling, CTL, and NK cell activity), as well as a gene expression module not previously annotated with a known function. These results may improve our ability to predict immune responses to influenza and aid in new vaccine development, and highlight the need for additional studies to better define and characterize immunosenescence.
Kennedy, R. B., Ovsyannikova, I. G., Haralambieva, I. H., Oberg, A. L., Zimmermann, M. T., Grill, D. E., & Poland, G. A. (2016). Immunosenescence-related transcriptomic and immunologic changes in older individuals following influenza vaccination. Frontiers in Immunology, 7(NOV). https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2016.00450