Aged individuals (>65 years) were classified as antibody (Ab) responders on the basis that they showed increases to ≥1:40 in serum Ab titers to all influenza virus strains present in the trivalent influenza vaccine within 4 weeks after immunization. The peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from pre-immunization samples of blood taken from seven Ab-responders and seven Ab-nonresponders were examined for their ability to exhibit up-regulation of IgD-receptor (IgD-R) after exposure for 2 h to immobilized cross-linked IgD, as shown by resetting with IgD-coated ox erythrocytes. The responsiveness to IgD was found to be predictive of the ability to produce Ab responses to viral protein Ag: The IgD-R up-regulation was >5 % in all Ab-responders and <4 % in all the Ab-nonresponders. In addition, there was an excellent correlation between mean Ab titers (to the three viruses in sera collected 4 weeks after immunization) and the percentage of IgD-R+ cells obtained in response to IgD in PBMC from the same individual prior to immunization: p = 0.894. Injection of influenza vaccine itself also induced IgD-R on PBMC in vivo. The percentage of IgD-R+ cells peaked after 24 h, was still detectable above background by day 7 or 14, and returned to pre-injection levels by day 28 in young subjects and aged Ab-responders, but not in Ab-nonresponders. Similarly, purified peripheral blood T cells obtained from aged Ab-responders exhibited IgD-R upon immunization in vivo. These findings suggest that Ag injection causes rapid up-regulation of IgD-R by cross-linking IgD in humans as well as in mice as shown previously. In analogy with results in mice, the present data are consistent with a role for IgD-R+ T cells in the humoral response in man. Proliferative responses to influenza proteins in peripheral blood T cells from vaccinated individuals were found to peak on day 7 and were higher in Ab-responders than in Ab-nonresponders.
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