Influence of immune aging on vaccine responses

Claire E. Gustafson, Chulwoo Kim, Cornelia M. Weyand, Jörg J. Goronzy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Impaired vaccine responses in older individuals are associated with alterations in both the quantity and quality of the T-cell compartment with age. As reviewed herein, the T-cell response to vaccination requires a fine balance between the generation of inflammatory effector T cells versus follicular helper T (TFH) cells that mediate high-affinity antibody production in tandem with the induction of long-lived memory cells for effective recall immunity. During aging, we find that this balance is tipped where T cells favor short-lived effector but not memory or TFH responses. Consistently, vaccine-induced antibodies commonly display a lower protective capacity. Mechanistically, multiple, potentially targetable, changes in T cells have been identified that contribute to these age-related defects, including posttranscription regulation, T-cell receptor signaling, and metabolic function. Although research into the induction of tissue-specific immunity by vaccines and with age is still limited, current mechanistic insights provide a framework for improved design of age-specific vaccination strategies that require further evaluation in a clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1309-1321
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


  • T cells
  • T-cell receptor
  • Vaccination
  • age
  • antibody
  • recall response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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