Researchers have examined the humoral responses of 1,000 healthy people to common infections and vaccines.
When the body is continuously exposed to pathogens, the immune system notably mounts what is known as a 'humoral response', which corresponds to the production of antibodies that can help fight infections and provide long-term protection.
In a new study, the lab of Jacques Fellay at EPFL, working with the Pasteur Institute in Paris, has examined the humoral responses of 1,000 healthy people to common infections and vaccines.
The scientists measured antibody responses to fifteen antigens (molecules that trigger humoral responses) from twelve infectious agents: cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus 1 and 2, varicella zoster virus, influenza A virus, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis B virus, Helicobacter pylori and Toxoplasma gondii.
In order to assess the importance of non-genetic factors, the researchers looked at the impact of numerous demographic variables. They identified age and sex as the most important determinants of humoral response, with older individuals and women showing stronger antibody responses against most antigens.
For the genetic factors, the scientists performed genome-wide association studies, which allow the exploration of the potential impact of genetic variation throughout the human genome.
Jacques Fellay said, "To combat infectious and autoimmune diseases, we need to better understand variation in the healthy immune response. Our study is a necessary first step toward individualized health care in infection and immunity."
The study's findings were originally published in the journal Genome Medicine.