HLA class II alleles and measles virus-specific cytokine immune response following two doses of measles vaccine

Inna G. Ovsyannikova, Robert M. Jacobson, Jenna E. Ryan, Robert A. Vierkant, V. Shane Pankratz, Steven J. Jacobsen, Gregory A. Poland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Measles virus-specific T cells and the production of cytokines play a critical role in the immune response following measles immunization. To understand the genetic factors that influence variation in IFN-γ and IL-4 responses following measles immunization and to provide insight into the factors influencing both cellular and humoral immunity to measles, we assessed associations between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genes and measles-specific Th1 and Th2-type cytokine responses in peripheral blood lymphocytes from 339 children previously vaccinated with two doses of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR-II). Median values for measles-specific IFN-γ and IL-4 secretion levels were 40.73 and 9.71 pg/ml, respectively. The global tests suggested associations between measles-specific IFN-γ response and alleles of the DRB1 and DQB1 loci (P=0.07 and P=0.02, respectively). Specifically, DRB1*0301,*0901, and*1501 alleles were significantly associated with IFN-γ secretion. The alleles that suggested evidence of an HLA association with IL-4 secretion were DRB1*0103,*0701, and*1101. Th1 cytokine responses and DQB1 allele associations revealed that the alleles with the strongest association with IFN-γ secretion were DQB1*0201,*0303,*0402, and*0602. Specific alleles with a suggestive association with low measles-specific Th2 cytokine responses were DQB1*0202 and*0503. In addition, DPB1*0101,*0201, and*0601 alleles provided suggestive evidence of an HLA association with measles-induced IFN-γ response, while DPB1*0501 was associated with an IL-4 response. These data suggest that IFN-γ and IL-4 cytokine responses to measles may be genetically restricted in part by HLA class II genes, which in turn can restrict the cellular immune response to measles vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798-807
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • HLA class II alleles
  • IFN-γ and IL-4 cytokines
  • Measles virus vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Genetics


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