The role of pre-existing immunity for influenza vaccine responses is of great importance for public health, and thus has been studied in various contexts, yet the impact of differential priming on vaccine responses in the midst of antigenic drift remains to be elucidated. To address this with antigenically related viruses, mice were first primed by either infection or immunization with A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (PR8) virus, then immunized with whole-inactivated A/Fort Monmouth/1/47 (FM1) virus. The ensuing vaccine responses and the protective efficacy of FM1 were superior in PR8 infection-primed mice compared to PR8 immunization-primed or unprimed mice. Increased FM1-specific Ab responses of PR8 infection-primed mice also broadened cross-reactivity against contemporary as well as antigenically more drifted strains. Further, prior infection heightened the protective efficacy of antigenically distant strains, such as A/Brisbane/59/2006 infection followed by immunization with split pandemic H1N1 vaccine (A/California/07/2009). Therefore, influenza infection is a significant priming event that intensifies future vaccine responses against drift strains.
Kim, J. H., Liepkalns, J., Reber, A. J., Lu, X., Music, N., Jacob, J., & Sambhara, S. (2016). Prior infection with influenza virus but not vaccination leaves a long-term immunological imprint that intensifies the protective efficacy of antigenically drifted vaccine strains. Vaccine, 34(4), 495–502. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.11.077