Influenza Vaccine Efficacy May Be Reduced in Older Adults

FEBRUARY 21, 2019
Jared Kaltwasser
Influenza vaccines may be less effective in the elderly due to a lack of antibody diversity, according to a new study. However, the findings also suggest a path forward to create even more effective flu vaccines.

The vast majority of influenza-related deaths occur in patients over the age of 65, making it a leading cause of death for the elderly. It is believed that this is due to changes in the immune systems of older patients, but a cross-country team of investigators wanted to find out exactly what was leading to the phenomenon.

The investigators decided to look more closely at B cells, the cells responsible for producing antibodies, to see how they acted differently in young patients and old patients.

According to study results published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, the authors found that the B cells secreted by elderly patients acquire fewer mutations, rendering them less adept at combating the rapidly changing influenza virus.

While the B cells of young patients mutated in such a way as to be able to tackle new evolutions in the flu virus, study authors found that elderly patients’ B cells were essentially stagnant.


A version of this article was originally published by MD Magazine. Visit MdMag.com to view the full article.

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