Sex Differences in Older Adults' Immune Responses to Seasonal Influenza Vaccination

Emily A. Voigt, Inna G. Ovsyannikova, Richard B Kennedy, Diane E. Grill, Krista M. Goergen, Daniel J Schaid, Gregory A. Poland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background: Sex differences in immune responses to influenza vaccine may impact efficacy across populations. Methods: In a cohort of 138 older adults (50-74 years old), we measured influenza A/H1N1 antibody titers, B-cell ELISPOT response, PBMC transcriptomics, and PBMC cell compositions at 0, 3, and 28 days post-immunization with the 2010/11 seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine. Results: We identified higher B-cell ELISPOT responses in females than males. Potential mechanisms for sex effects were identified in four gene clusters related to T, NK, and B cells. Mediation analysis indicated that sex-dependent expression in T and NK cell genes can be partially attributed to higher CD4+ T cell and lower NK cell fractions in females. We identified strong sex effects in 135 B cell genes whose expression correlates with ELISPOT measures, and found that cell subset differences did not explain the effect of sex on these genes' expression. Post-vaccination expression of these genes, however, mediated 41% of the sex effect on ELISPOT responses. Conclusions: These results improve our understanding of sexual dimorphism in immunity and influenza vaccine response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • elderly
  • immunity
  • influenza
  • influenza vaccine
  • sex differences
  • sexual dimorphism
  • systems biology
  • vaccinomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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