Tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis, inactivated polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccines administered during pregnancy protect young infants from Bordetella pertussis (B. pertussis) infection. Whilst the impact of maternal Tdap-IPV vaccination on infants’ humoral response to subsequent pertussis immunisation has been investigated, little is known about any impact on innate responses.
We investigated the immune response to B. pertussis in mothers and infants from Tdap-IPV-vaccinated and unvaccinated pregnancies, utilising a whole blood assay and flow cytometric phenotyping of neonatal natural killer (NK) cells, monocytes and dendritic cells. Blood was collected from mother and umbilical cord at birth, and from infants at seven weeks (one week pre-primary pertussis immunisation) and five months of age (one month post-primary pertussis immunisation). 21 mothers and 67 infants were studied.
Vaccinated women had elevated pro-inflammatory cytokine responses to B. pertussis. At birth, babies of vaccinated women had elevated IL-2 and IL-12 responses, elevated classical monocyte proportions, and reduced monocyte and NK cell cytokine responses. The elevated IL-2 response persisted to seven weeks-of-age, when lower IL-10 and IL-13 responses were also seen. One-month post-primary pertussis vaccination, infants from vaccinated pregnancies still had lower IL-10 responses to B. pertussis, as well as lower IL-4.
This study suggests that pertussis vaccination during pregnancy impacts infant cellular immune responses, potentially contributing to the modification of antibody responses already reported following primary immunisation against B. pertussis.
National Institute for Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre and IMmunising PRegnant women and INfants neTwork (funded by the GCRF Networks in Vaccines R&D).

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