Correlation among measles virus-specific antibody, lymphoproliferation and Th1/Th2 cytokine responses following measles-mumps-rubella-II (MMR-II) vaccination

N. Dhiman, I. G. Ovsyannikova, J. E. Ryan, R. M. Jacobson, R. A. Vierkant, V. S. Pankratz, S. J. Jacobsen, Gregory A. Poland

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35 Scopus citations


Immunity to measles is conferred by the interplay of humoral and cellular immune responses, the latter being critical in maintaining long-term recall response. Therefore, it is important to evaluate measles-specific humoral and cellular immunity in populations several years after vaccination and understand the correlations among these measures of immunity. We examined measles-specific antibodies, lymphoproliferation and the Th1/Th2 signature cytokines, interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-4, in a population-based cohort of healthy children from Olmsted County, Minnesota after two doses of measles-mumps- rubella-II (MMR-II) vaccine. We detected positive measures of measles-specific cellular and humoral immunity in the majority of our study population. However, a small proportion of subjects demonstrated an immune response skewed towards the Th2 type, characterized by the presence of either IL-4 and/or measles-specific antibodies and a lack of IFN-γ production. Further, we observed a significant positive correlation between lymphoproliferation and secretion of IFN-γ (r = 0-20, P = 0.0002) and IL-4 (r = 0-15, P = 0.005). Measles antibody levels were correlated with lymphoproliferation (r = 0-12, P = 0-03), but lacked correlation to either cytokine type. In conclusion, we demonstrated the presence of both long-term cellular and humoral responses after MMR-II vaccination in a significant proportion of study subjects. Further, a positive correlation between lymphoproliferation and IL-4 and IFN-γ suggests that immunity to measles may be maintained by both Th1 and Th2 cells. We speculate that the Th2 biased response observed in a subset of our subjects may be insufficient to provide long-term immunity against measles. Further examination of the determinants of Th1 versus Th2 skewing of the immune response and long-term follow-up is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-504
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Antibody
  • Cellular immunity
  • Cytokines
  • Lymphoproliferation
  • Measles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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