We previously reported HLA allelic associations with vaccinia virus (VACV)-induced adaptive immune responses in a cohort of healthy individuals (n = 1,071 subjects) after a single dose of the licensed smallpox (Dryvax) vaccine. This study demonstrated that specific HLA alleles were significantly associated with VACV-induced neutralizing antibody (NA) titers (HLA-B*13:02, *38:02, *44:03, *48:01, and HLA-DQB1*03:02, *06:04) and cytokine (HLA-DRB1*01:03, *03:01, *10:01, *13:01, *15:01) immune responses. We undertook an independent study of 1,053 healthy individuals and examined associations between HLA alleles and measures of adaptive immunity after a single dose of Dryvax-derived ACAM2000 vaccine to evaluate previously discovered HLA allelic associations from the Dryvax study and determine if these associations are replicated with ACAM2000. Females had significantly higher NA titers than male subjects in both study cohorts [median ID50 discovery cohort 159 (93, 256) vs. 125 (75, 186), p < 0.001; replication cohort 144 (82, 204) vs. 110 (61, 189), p = 0.024]. The association between the DQB1*03:02 allele (median ID50 discovery cohort 152, p = 0.015; replication cohort 134, p = 0.010) and higher NA titers was replicated. Two HLA associations of comparable magnitudes were consistently found between DRB1*04:03 and DRB1*08:01 alleles and IFN-γ ELISPOT responses. The association between the DRB1*15:01 allele with IFN-γ secretion was also replicated (median pg/mL discovery cohort 182, p = 0.052; replication cohort 203, p = 0.014). Our results suggest that smallpox vaccine-induced adaptive immune responses are significantly influenced by HLA gene polymorphisms. These data provide information for functional studies and design of novel candidate smallpox vaccines.
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