Influenza A/H5N1 vaccines have been poorly immunogenic. Addition of Adjuvant System 03 (AS03) markedly enhances immune responses, but the mechanisms of this enhancement are unclear.
We compared gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) between recipients of AS03-adjuvanted and unadjuvanted inactivated split-virus H5N1 vaccine on days 1, 3, 7, and 28 post-vaccination. We used a systems vaccinology approach to assess functional classifications of differentially expressed (DE) genes between the two vaccine groups, identify DE genes that correlate with serologic responses, and compared these findings with previous cell-specific assessments.
AS03-adjuvanted vaccine induced the strongest differential gene expression signals on day 1 after vaccination (Figure 1). Multiple innate immune signaling pathways were activated, including the interferon, JAK-STAT, and TNF pathways, and FC gamma receptor (Fc_R) mediated phagocytosis. Immune pathways specific for antigen processing and presentation and influenza A responses were also enriched. Early differential expression of several signal transduction (day 1) and immunoglobulin (day 7) genes were predictive of peak HAI titer (Figure 2). Compared to cell-specific responses, DE gene and immunologic pathways of PBMCs were most similar to innate immune cell subsets. However, several pathways were unique to PBMCs, and several cell-type specific pathways, particularly from neutrophils, were absent in PBMCs (Figure 3).
Transcriptomic analysis of PBMCs after AS03-adjuvanted H5N1 vaccination revealed early differential regulation of multiple innate immune signaling pathways and enrichment of pathways involved in antigen presentation and influenza immune responses. Early expression of several genes was associated with peak HAI responses, suggesting a potential role for application of these signatures in earlier determination of vaccine responses. While PBMC and immune cell-specific results shared key innate immune signals, unique signals were identified by either approach.
T. Jensen, None
H. Hill, None
C. Gelber, None
C. B. Creech, Pfizer: Grant Investigator , Research grant . Novartis: Grant Investigator , Research grant .
K. Edwards, Novartis: Grant Investigator , Research grant . Novartis: Scientific Advisor , Consulting fee .