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 journalArticlepeer-review

15 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)
Article number180
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - 2019


  • Elderly
  • Immunity
  • Influenza
  • Influenza vaccine
  • Sex differences
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Systems biology
  • Vaccinomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex differences in older adults’ immune responses to seasonal influenza vaccination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this