Antigen-specific IL-2 secretion correlates with NK cell responses after immunization of Tanzanian children with the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine.
Horowitz A., Hafalla JCR., King E., Lusingu J., Dekker D., Leach A., Moris P., Cohen J., Vekemans J., Villafana T., Corran PH., Bejon P., Drakeley CJ., von Seidlein L., Riley EM.
RTS,S/AS01, a vaccine targeting pre-erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum, is undergoing clinical trials. We report an analysis of cellular immune response to component Ags of RTS,S-hepatitis B surface Ag (HBs) and P. falciparum circumsporozoite (CS) protein-among Tanzanian children in a phase IIb RTS,S/AS01(E) trial. RTS,S/AS01 (E) vaccinees make stronger T cell IFN-γ, CD69, and CD25 responses to HBs peptides than do controls, indicating that RTS,S boosts pre-existing HBs responses. T cell CD69 and CD25 responses to CS and CS-specific secreted IL-2 were augmented by RTS,S vaccination. Importantly, more than 50% of peptide-induced IFN-γ(+) lymphocytes were NK cells, and the magnitude of the NK cell CD69 response to HBs peptides correlated with secreted IL-2 concentration. CD69 and CD25 expression and IL-2 secretion may represent sensitive markers of RTS,S-induced, CS-specific T cells. The potential for T cell-derived IL-2 to augment NK cell activation in RTS,S-vaccinated individuals, and the relevance of this for protection, needs to be explored further.