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March 1997

Cell-mediated and Antibody Responses to Bordetella pertussis Antigens in Children Vaccinated With Acellular or Whole-cell Pertussis Vaccines

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Bacteriology and Medical Mycology (Drs Cassone, Ausiello, Urbani, and Giuliano, and Mr Lande and Ms La Sala), and Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Drs Piscitelli and Salmaso), Instituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy. A complete list of the members of the Pertosse-CMI Working Group appears at the end of this article.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(3):283-289. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170400069013

Objective:  To examine induction and persistence of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) and antibody responses to Bordetella pertussis antigens in infants receiving antipertussis vaccines.

Design and Setting:  A randomized, blinded study of 142 children receiving acellular pertussis vaccines combined with diphtheria-tetanus toxoids (DTaP) (DTaP manufactured by SmithKline Beecham [DTaP-SB], Rixensart, Belgium, and DTaP manufactured by Chiron Biocin [DTaP-CB], Siena, Italy), or a whole-cell pertussis vaccine (DTwP) (Connaught Laboratories Inc, Swiftwater, Pa), or a diphtheria-tetanus (DT) (Chiron Biocine) only vaccine. Three doses of each vaccine were given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, and CMI and antibody responses were evaluated before and at 1 and 14 months after vaccination.

Methods and Main Outcome Measures:  Cell-mediated immunity was assessed by proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated in vitro by B pertussis antigens (pertussis toxin, filamentous hemagglutinin, and pertactin). Antibody titers against pertussis toxin, filamentous hemagglutinin, and pertactin were determined by a standardized enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results:  A CMI-positive response to at least 1 B pertussis antigen at 1 or both postvaccination assays was detected in 46%, 55%, and 83% of DTwP, DTaP-SB, and DTaP-CB vaccine recipients, respectively. Frequency of CMI response to individual antigens ranged from less than 4.9% against pertussis toxin in DTwP recipients to 52% against pertactin in DTaP-CB recipients. The postvaccination responses measured at 14 months equalled, or had increased frequency or intensity, that of the 1-month postvaccination responses. Elevated antibody titers against the 3 antigens were present in all DTaP recipients 1 month after vaccination and were higher in CMI-positive children than in CMI-negative children. They fell, however, to low, if not negligible, levels 14 months after vaccination.

Conclusions:  Acellular pertussis vaccines were better inducers of CMI response than the whole-cell vaccine, particularly against pertussis toxin. Once acquired, CMI persisted, in contrast with the rapid antibody decline. Thus, CMI responses could be a useful adjunct to serology in the evaluation of pertussis vaccine immunogenicity and a better correlate of long-term immunity to B pertussis than antibody titers.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:283-289