Varicella-zoster virus-specific immune responses to herpes zoster in elderly participants in a trial of a clinically effective zoster vaccine.


Journal Article

BACKGROUND: The objectives of this study were to evaluate the association between varicella-zoster virus (VZV)-specific humoral and cell-mediated immunity (CMI) to herpes zoster (HZ) and protection against HZ morbidity and to compare immune responses to HZ and zoster vaccine. METHODS: In 981 elderly persons who developed HZ during a zoster vaccine efficacy trial (321 vaccinees and 660 placebo recipients) and 1362 without HZ (682 vaccinees and 680 placebo recipients), CMI was measured by VZV responder cell frequency and interferon-gamma enzyme-linked immunospot, and antibodies were measured by VZV enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay against affinity-purified VZV glycoproteins (gpELISA). RESULTS: Robust VZV CMI at HZ onset correlated with reduced HZ morbidity, whereas VZV gpELISA titers did not. Three weeks after HZ onset, gpELISA titers were highest in those with more severe HZ and were slightly increased in placebo recipients (compared with zoster vaccine recipients) and in older individuals. VZV CMI responses to HZ were similar in zoster vaccine and placebo recipients and were not affected by demographic characteristics or antiviral therapy, except for responder cell frequency at HZ onset, which decreased with age. When responses to zoster vaccine and HZ could be compared, VZV CMI values were similar, but antibody titers were lower. CONCLUSIONS: Higher VZV CMI at HZ onset was associated with reduced HZ severity and less postherpetic neuralgia. Higher antibody titers were associated with increased HZ severity and occurrence of postherpetic neuralgia. HZ and zoster vaccine generated comparable VZV CMI.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Weinberg, A; Zhang, JH; Oxman, MN; Johnson, GR; Hayward, AR; Caulfield, MJ; Irwin, MR; Clair, J; Smith, JG; Stanley, H; Marchese, RD; Harbecke, R; Williams, HM; Chan, ISF; Arbeit, RD; Gershon, AA; Schödel, F; Morrison, VA; Kauffman, CA; Straus, SE; Schmader, KE; Davis, LE; Levin, MJ; US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Cooperative Studies Program Shingles Prevention Study Investigators,

Published Date

  • October 1, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 200 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1068 - 1077

PubMed ID

  • 19712037

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19712037

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1899

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/605611


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States