Impact of ageing and a synbiotic on the immune response to seasonal influenza vaccination; a randomised controlled trial

Sumia Enani, Agnieszka Przemska-Kosicka, Caroline E Childs, Catherine Maidens, Honglin Dong, Lorenza Conterno, Kieran Tuohy, Susan Todd, Margot Gosney, Parveen Yaqoob

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Background & aims: Ageing increases risk of respiratory infections and impairs the response to influenza vaccination. Pre- and pro-biotics offer an opportunity to modulate anti-viral defenses and the response to vaccination via alteration of the gut microbiota. This study investigated the effect of a novel probiotic, Bifidobacterium longum bv. infantis CCUG 52486, combined with a prebiotic, gluco-oligosaccharide, on the B and T cell response to seasonal influenza vaccination in young and older subjects . Methods: In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, 58 young (18e35 y) and 54 older (60e85 y) subjects were supplemented with the synbiotic for 8 weeks. At 4 weeks they were administered with a seasonal influenza vaccine. B and T cell phenotype and responsiveness to in vitro re-stimulation with the vaccine were assessed at baseline, 4, 6 and 8 weeks. Results: B and T cell profiles differed markedly between young and older subjects. Vaccination increased numbers of memory, IgAþ memory, IgGþ memory and total IgGþ B cells in young subjects, but failed to do so in older subjects and did not significantly alter T cell subsets. Seroconversion to the H1N1 subunit in the older subjects was associated with higher post-vaccination numbers of plasma B cells, but seroconversion was less consistently associated with T cell phenotype. B and T cell subsets from both young and older subjects demonstrated a strong antigen-specific recall challenge, and although not influenced by age, responsiveness to the recall challenge was associated with seroconversion. In older subjects, CMV seropositivity was associated with a significantly lower recall response to the vaccine, but the synbiotic did not affect the responsiveness of B or T cells to re-stimulation with influenza vaccine. Conclusions: Antigen-specific B and T cell activation following an in vitro recall challenge with the influenza vaccine was influenced by CMV seropositivity, but not by a synbiotic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Ageing
  • Influenza
  • Probiotic
  • Lymphocyte
  • Vaccination


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