The patterns of cellular immune responses induced by live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) versus those of the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) have not been studied extensively, especially in children. The goals of this study were to evaluate the effects of TIV and LAIV immunization on cellular immunity to live influenza A virus in children and adults and to explore factors associated with variations in responses to influenza vaccines among individuals. A gamma interferon (IFN-γ) flow cytometry assay was used to measure IFN-γ-producing (IFN-γ+) NK and T cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures stimulated with a live influenza A virus strain before and after LAIV or TIV immunization of children and adults. The mean percentages of influenza A virus-specific IFN-γ+ CD4 and CD8 T cells increased significantly after LAIV, but not TIV, immunization in children aged 5 to 9 years. No increases in the mean levels of influenza A virus-reactive IFN-γ+ T cells and NK cells were observed in adults given LAIV or TIV. TIV induced a significant increase in influenza A virus-reactive T cells in 6-month- to 4-year-old children; LAIV was not evaluated in this age group. The postvaccination changes (n-fold) in the percentages of influenza A virus-reactive IFN-γ+ T and NK cells in adults were highly variable and correlated inversely with the prevaccination percentages, in particular with that of the CD56dim NK cell subset. In conclusion, our findings identify age, type of vaccine, and prevaccination levels of immune reactivity to influenza A virus as factors significantly associated with the magnitude of cellular immune responses to influenza vaccines.
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