Vaccines play a fundamental role in modern medicine and the introduction of Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine in 1798 marked an important turning point in the battle against infectious disease (Jenner, 1798). With the notable exceptions of smallpox and rabies, many of the early advances made in vaccinology during the 18th and 19th centuries were focused primarily on bacterial pathogens. These initial studies reflect the tools that were developed by early microbiologists to grow and study important pathogenic bacteria as well as some of the challenges faced by virologists prior to the advent of modern tissue culture technologies. During the 20th century, new viral vaccines against yellow fever, influenza, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and others emerged. There are now 14 vaccines licensed in the USA that are directed against viral pathogens.
Contributions of humoral and cellular immunity to vaccine-induced protection in humans. Virology. (2011) 411(2): 206-215
Vaccines play a vital role in protecting the host against infectious disease. The most effective licensed vaccines elicit long-term antigen-specific antibody responses by plasma cells in addition to the development of persisting T cell and B cell memory. The relative contributions of these different immune cell subsets are context-dependent and vary depending on the attributes of the vaccine (i.e., live/attenuated, inactivated, and subunit) as well as the biology of the pathogen in question. For relatively simple vaccines against bacterial antigens (e.g., tetanus toxin) or invariant viruses, the immunological correlates of protection are well-characterized. For more complex vaccines against viruses, especially those that mutate or cause latent infections, it is more difficult to define the specific correlates of immunity. This often requires observational/natural history studies, clinical trials, or experimental evaluation in relevant animal models in order for immunological correlates to be determined or extrapolated. In this review, we will discuss the relative contributions of virus-specific T cell and B cell responses to vaccine-mediated protection against disease.
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