Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Vaccine-Induced Antibody Responses as Parameters of the Influence of Endogenous and Environmental Factors. (Research Review)

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Vaccine-Induced Antibody Responses as Parameters of the Influence of Endogenous and Environmental Factors. (Research Review)

Article excerpt

In laboratory animals, an adequate way to assess effects of environmental exposures on the immune system is to study effects on antigen-specific immune responses, such as after sensitization to T-cell--dependent antigens. This probably also applies to testing effects in the human population. It has thus been suggested that antibody responses to vaccination might be useful in this context. Vaccination responses may be influenced by a variety of factors other than environmental ones. One factor is the vaccine itself; a second is the vaccination procedure used. In addition, the intrinsic capacity of the recipient to respond to a vaccine, which is determined by sex, genetic factors, and age, is important. Psychological stress, nutrition, and (infections) diseases are also likely to have an impact. We reviewed the literature on vaccine response. With regard to exogenous factors, there is good evidence that smoking, diet, psychological stress, and certain infectious diseases affect vaccination titers, although it is difficult to determine to what extent. Genetic factors render certain individuals nonresponsive to vaccination. In general, in epidemiologic studies of adverse effects of exposure to agents in the environment in which vaccination titers are used, these additional factors need to be taken into consideration. Provided that these factors are corrected for, a study that shows an association of exposure to a given agent with diminished vaccination responses may indicate suboptimal function of the immune system and clinically relevant diminished immune response. It is quite unlikely that environmental exposures that affect responses to vaccination may in fact abrogate protection to the specific pathogen for which vaccination was performed. Only in those cases where individuals have a poor response to the vaccine may exogenous factors perhaps have a clinically significant influence on resistance to the specific pathogen. An exposure-associated inhibition of a vaccination response may, however, signify a decreased host resistance to pathogens against which no vaccination had been performed. Key words. age, antibody responses, epidemiology, genetic factors, immunotoxicity, nutritional factors, stress, vaccination.

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Antibody responses to vaccination are influenced by a variety of endogenous factors including genetics, sex, age, and exogenous factors such as stress, nutrition, and infectious diseases. These factors need to be taken into consideration in clinical and epidemiologic studies where the antibody response is the biomarker assessed, for example, when one wants to assess in immunotoxicology investigations effects of exposure to environmental agents.

Studies in laboratory animals have shown that many environmental chemicals exert immunotoxic activity as indicated by altered immune functions, including effects on resistance to experimental infections [reviewed by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (1)]. Effects of environmental exposures on immune functions have also been shown in humans (1), yet it is less well known whether immunotoxicity induced by environmental chemicals will have such severe consequences for resistance to infections. It has been suggested that where exposure to environmental immunotoxicants may induce subtler immunosuppression, consequences of such suppression may become evident as increased incidences of common infections, such as influenza and common cold (1).

In experimental studies in rodents, it has been shown that the antibody response to sheep erythrocytes are a valuable indicator for immunotoxicity (2,3). This is due to the fact that the humoral immune response to sheep erythrocytes involves major components of the immune system, such as degradation of the erythrocytes by phagocytes, antigen presentation, cellular immune functions resulting in helper activity, and finally production of specific antibodies. In addition, alterations in the response to sheep erythrocytes correlates well with resistance to experimental infectious agents in these animal studies (3). …

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