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1.  New approaches to understanding the immune response to vaccination and infection 
Vaccine  2015;33(40):5271-5281.
The immune system is a network of specialized cell types and tissues that communicates via cytokines and direct contact, to orchestrate specific types of defensive responses. Until recently, we could only study immune responses in a piecemeal, highly focused fashion, on major components like antibodies to the pathogen. But recent advances in technology and in our understanding of the many components of the system, innate and adaptive, have made possible a broader approach, where both the multiple responding cells and cytokines in the blood are measured. This systems immunology approach to a vaccine response or an infection gives us a more holistic picture of the different parts of the immune system that are mobilized and in turn, may allow us to better understand the mechanisms of such responses, as well as to predict vaccine efficacy in different populations well in advance of efficacy studies. Here we summarize the different technologies and methods and discuss how they can inform us about the differences between diseases and vaccines, and how they can greatly accelerate vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC4581990  PMID: 26232539
systems immunology; immune profiling; high-throughput methods; vaccinology; computational immunology; regularization; feature selection; elastic net; human immunology
2.  The Promised Land of Human Immunology 
Advances in technology and data analysis have made it possible to take a new look at human immunology. These advances run the gamut from systems biology approaches, which are likely in the vanguard of how we can start “to put the pieces together” of immune function, to a deeper understanding of specific diseases and vaccines and the immune repertoire. In our own experience, we have also found that asking simple questions about human immunity has often given us very surprising answers, causing a rethink of established dogma. Thus, we have developed a new perspective on the nature of the αβ TCR repertoire and also the likely role of T-cell repertoire (TCR) cross-reactivity in generating T memory independent of specific antigen interactions. These findings show that human immunology is not just a necessary step for “translating” basic immunology to treat diseases or develop better vaccines, but is also an important complement to the inbred mouse model.
PMCID: PMC4896736  PMID: 24638855
3.  A Simple Right Heart Score for Predicting Outcome in Patients with Idiopathic, Familial or Drug and Toxin associated Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
JACC. Cardiovascular imaging  2015;8(6):627-638.
The objective of our study was to determine whether a simple score combining indices of right ventricular (RV) function and right atrial (RA) size would offer good discrimination of outcome in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
Identifying a simple score of outcome could simplify risk stratification of patients with PAH and potentially lead to improved tailored monitoring or therapy.
We recruited patients from both Stanford University (derivation cohort) and VU University Medical Center (validation cohort). The composite end-point for the study was death or lung transplantation. A Cox proportional hazard with bootstrap confidence interval adjustment model was used to determine independent correlates of death or transplantation. A predictive score was developed using the β- coefficients of the multivariate models.
For the derivation cohort (n=95), the majority of patients were female (79%), average age was 43±11 years, mean pulmonary arterial pressure was 54±14 mmHg, and indexed pulmonary vascular resistance was 25±12 WU m2. Over an average follow-up of 5 years, the composite end-point occurred in 34 patients consisting of 26 deaths and 8 patients undergoing lung transplantation. On multivariate analysis, RV systolic dysfunction grade [HR 3.4, 2.0 to 7.8, P<0.001], severe RA enlargement [HR 3.0, 1.3 to 8.1, P=0.009] and systemic blood pressure <110 mmHg [HR 3.3, 1.5 to 9,4, P<0.001] were independently associated with outcome. A right heart (RH) score was constructed based on these 3 parameters compared favorably to the NIH survival equation (0.88[0.79 to 0.94] vs. 0.60[0.49 to 0.710], P< 0.001) but not statistically different than the REVEAL score c-statistic of 0.80[0.69 to 0.88] with P= 0.097. In the validation cohort (n=87), the RH score remained the strongest independent correlate of outcome.
In patients with prevalent PAH, a simple RH score may offer good discrimination of long term outcome in PAH.
PMCID: PMC4466029  PMID: 25981508
pulmonary hypertension; heart failure; right heart; atrial function; outcome
4.  IgH sequences in common variable immune deficiency reveal altered B cell development and selection** 
Science translational medicine  2015;7(302):302ra135.
Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) is the most common symptomatic primary immune deficiency, affecting ∼1 in 25,000 persons. These patients suffer from impaired antibody responses, autoimmunity, and susceptibility to lymphoid cancers. To explore the cellular basis for these clinical phenotypes, we conducted high-throughput DNA sequencing of immunoglobulin heavy chain gene rearrangements from 93 CVID patients and 105 control subjects and sorted naïve and memory B cells from 13 of the CVID patients and 10 of the control subjects. CVID patients showed abnormal VDJ rearrangement and abnormal formation of complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3). We observed decreased selection against antibodies with long CDR3 regions in memory repertoires and decreased V gene replacement, offering possible mechanisms for increased patient autoreactivity. Our data indicate that patient immunodeficiency might derive both from decreased diversity of the naïve B cell pool and decreased somatic hypermutation in memory repertoires. CVID patients also exhibited abnormal clonal expansion of unmutated B cells relative to controls. Although impaired B cell germinal center activation is commonly viewed as causative in CVID, these data indicate that CVID B cells diverge from controls as early as the pro-B cell stage and suggest possible explanations for the increased incidence of autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, and lymphoma CVID patients.
PMCID: PMC4584259  PMID: 26311730
5.  Variation in the human immune system is largely driven by non-heritable influences 
Cell  2015;160(0):37-47.
There is considerable heterogeneity in immunological parameters between individuals, but its sources are largely unknown. To assess the relative contribution of heritable versus non-heritable factors, we have performed a systems-level analysis of 210 healthy twins between 8–82 years of age. We measured 204 different parameters, including cell population frequencies, cytokine responses, and serum proteins, and found that 77% of these are dominated (> 50% of variance) and 58% almost completely determined (> 80% of variance) by non-heritable influences. In addition, some of these parameters become more variable with age, suggesting the cumulative influence of environmental exposure. Similarly, the serological responses to seasonal influenza vaccination are also determined largely by non-heritable factors, likely due to repeated exposure to different strains. Lastly, in MZ twins discordant for cytomegalovirus infection, over half of all parameters are affected. These results highlight the largely reactive and adaptive nature of the immune system in healthy individuals.
PMCID: PMC4302727  PMID: 25594173
6.  Cytomegalovirus infection improves immune responses to influenza 
Science translational medicine  2015;7(281):281ra43.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a beta-herpes virus present in a latent form in most people worldwide. In immunosuppressed individuals, CMV can reactivate and cause serious clinical complications, but the effect of the latent state on healthy people remains elusive. We undertook a systems approach to understand the differences between seropositive and negative subjects and measured hundreds of immune system components from blood samples including cytokines and chemokines, immune cell phenotyping, gene expression, ex vivo cell responses to cytokine stimuli and the antibody response to seasonal influenza vaccination. As expected, we found decreased responses to vaccination and an overall down-regulation of immune components in aged individuals regardless of CMV serostatus. In contrast, CMV-infected young adults exhibited an overall up-regulation of immune components including enhanced antibody responses to influenza vaccination, increased CD8+ T cell sensitivity, and elevated levels of circulating IFN-γ compared to uninfected individuals. Experiments with young mice infected with murine CMV also showed significant protection from an influenza virus challenge compared with uninfected animals, although this effect declined with time. These data show that CMV and its murine equivalent can have a beneficial effect on the immune response of young, healthy individuals, which may explain the continued coexistence of CMV and mammals throughout their evolution.
PMCID: PMC4505610  PMID: 25834109
7.  Association between Latent Proviral Characteristics and Immune Activation in Antiretrovirus-Treated Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1-Infected Adults 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8629-8639.
Generalized immune activation during HIV infection is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, neurocognitive disease, osteoporosis, metabolic disorders, and physical frailty. The mechanisms driving this immune activation are poorly understood, particularly for individuals effectively treated with antiretroviral medications. We hypothesized that viral characteristics such as sequence diversity may play a role in driving HIV-associated immune activation. We therefore sequenced proviral DNA isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-infected individuals on fully suppressive antiretroviral therapy. We performed phylogenetic analyses, calculated viral diversity and divergence in the env and pol genes, and determined coreceptor tropism and the frequency of drug resistance mutations. Comprehensive immune profiling included quantification of immune cell subsets, plasma cytokine levels, and intracellular signaling responses in T cells, B cells, and monocytes. These antiretroviral therapy-treated HIV-infected individuals exhibited a wide range of diversity and divergence in both env and pol genes. However, proviral diversity and divergence in env and pol, coreceptor tropism, and the level of drug resistance did not significantly correlate with markers of immune activation. A clinical history of virologic failure was also not significantly associated with levels of immune activation, indicating that a history of virologic failure does not inexorably lead to increased immune activation as long as suppressive antiretroviral medications are provided. Overall, this study demonstrates that latent viral diversity is unlikely to be a major driver of persistent HIV-associated immune activation.
IMPORTANCE Chronic immune activation, which is associated with cardiovascular disease, neurologic disease, and early aging, is likely to be a major driver of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. Although treatment of HIV with antiretroviral medications decreases the level of immune activation, levels do not return to normal. The factors driving this persistent immune activation, particularly during effective treatment, are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated whether characteristics of the latent, integrated HIV provirus that persists during treatment are associated with immune activation. We found no relationship between latent viral characteristics and immune activation in treated individuals, indicating that qualities of the provirus are unlikely to be a major driver of persistent inflammation. We also found that individuals who had previously failed treatment but were currently effectively treated did not have significantly increased levels of immune activation, providing hope that past treatment failures do not have a lifelong “legacy” impact.
PMCID: PMC4135944  PMID: 24850730
8.  Effects of aging, CMV infection, and EBV infection on human B cell repertoires 
Elderly humans show decreased humoral immunity to pathogens and vaccines, yet the effects of aging on B cells are not fully known. Chronic viral infection by cytomegalovirus (CMV) is implicated as a driver of clonal T cell proliferations in some aging humans, but whether CMV or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection contributes to alterations in the B cell repertoire with age is unclear. We have used high-throughput DNA sequencing of immunoglobulin heavy chain (IGH) gene rearrangements to study the B cell receptor repertoires over two successive years in 27 individuals ranging in age from 20 to 89 years. Some features of the B cell repertoire remain stable with age, but elderly subjects show increased numbers of B cells with long CDR3 regions, a trend toward accumulation of more highly mutated IgM and IgG immunoglobulin genes, and persistent clonal B cell populations in the blood. Seropositivity for CMV or EBV infection alters B cell repertoires, regardless of the individual's age: EBV infection correlates with the presence of persistent clonal B cell expansions, while CMV infection correlates with the proportion of highly mutated antibody genes. These findings isolate effects of aging from those of chronic viral infection on B cell repertoires, and provide a baseline for understanding human B cell responses to vaccination or infectious stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3947124  PMID: 24337376
10.  Variability in the Immune System: of Vaccine Responses and Immune States 
Current opinion in immunology  2013;25(4):542-547.
System-wide approaches are now being applied to study vaccine responses, whose mechanisms of action, and failure, are not well understood. These works have repeatedly shown vaccine response to be an orchestrated process involving multiple arms of immunity most noticeable sensing and innate components. Prediction of vaccine responses based on system-wide measures is achievable, but challenges remain for robust population wide predictions based only on pre-vaccination measures, especially in partially efficacious vaccines such as influenza. This is especially true in older adults, who are often less responsive to vaccination and exhibit high level of variation compared to young in many components of immunity. Despite this increase in variation, most of the studies on aging use group averages of immune phenotypes to model immune system behavior. Using systems approaches, it is possible to exploit this variation to form distinguishable clusters of phenotypes within and across individuals to discover underlying immune states.
PMCID: PMC3788704  PMID: 23953808
12.  Characterization of Influenza Vaccine Immunogenicity Using Influenza Antigen Microarrays 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64555.
Existing methods to measure influenza vaccine immunogenicity prohibit detailed analysis of epitope determinants recognized by immunoglobulins. The development of highly multiplex proteomics platforms capable of capturing a high level of antibody binding information will enable researchers and clinicians to generate rapid and meaningful readouts of influenza-specific antibody reactivity.
We developed influenza hemagglutinin (HA) whole-protein and peptide microarrays and validated that the arrays allow detection of specific antibody reactivity across a broad dynamic range using commercially available antibodies targeted to linear and conformational HA epitopes. We derived serum from blood draws taken from 76 young and elderly subjects immediately before and 28±7 days post-vaccination with the 2008/2009 trivalent influenza vaccine and determined the antibody reactivity of these sera to influenza array antigens.
Using linear regression and correcting for multiple hypothesis testing by the Benjamini and Hochberg method of permutations over 1000 resamplings, we identified antibody reactivity to influenza whole-protein and peptide array features that correlated significantly with age, H1N1, and B-strain post-vaccine titer as assessed through a standard microneutralization assay (p<0.05, q <0.2). Notably, we identified several peptide epitopes that were inversely correlated with regard to age and seasonal H1N1 and B-strain neutralization titer (p<0.05, q <0.2), implicating reactivity to these epitopes in age-related defects in response to H1N1 influenza. We also employed multivariate linear regression with cross-validation to build models based on age and pre-vaccine peptide reactivity that predicted vaccine-induced neutralization of seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 influenza strains with a high level of accuracy (84.7% and 74.0%, respectively).
Our methods provide powerful tools for rapid and accurate measurement of broad antibody-based immune responses to influenza, and may be useful in measuring response to other vaccines and infectious agents.
PMCID: PMC3667171  PMID: 23734205
13.  Apoptosis and other immune biomarkers predict influenza vaccine responsiveness 
A systems analysis of immune biomarkers in 89 young and older adults revealed age-dependent and age-independent features, including markers of apoptosis that correlated with antibody responses to a seasonal influenza vaccine.
Influenza hemagglutinin peptide arrays reveal age-associated effects that correlate with both pre-existing and vaccine-induced antibody titers.Age-dependent and age-independent baseline immune parameters correlate with and substantially predict the serological response to a seasonal influenza vaccine.Soluble FasL and gene modules associated with apoptosis are predictors of the serological response to an influenza vaccine, which was abrogated in Fas-deficient mice.
Despite the importance of the immune system in many diseases, there are currently no objective benchmarks of immunological health. In an effort to identifying such markers, we used influenza vaccination in 30 young (20–30 years) and 59 older subjects (60 to >89 years) as models for strong and weak immune responses, respectively, and assayed their serological responses to influenza strains as well as a wide variety of other parameters, including gene expression, antibodies to hemagglutinin peptides, serum cytokines, cell subset phenotypes and in vitro cytokine stimulation. Using machine learning, we identified nine variables that predict the antibody response with 84% accuracy. Two of these variables are involved in apoptosis, which positively associated with the response to vaccination and was confirmed to be a contributor to vaccine responsiveness in mice. The identification of these biomarkers provides new insights into what immune features may be most important for immune health.
PMCID: PMC3658270  PMID: 23591775
aging; apoptosis; influenza; systems immunology; vaccinology
14.  Limited efficacy of inactivated influenza vaccine in elderly individuals is associated with decreased production of vaccine-specific antibodies 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(8):3109-3119.
During seasonal influenza epidemics, disease burden is shouldered predominantly by the very young and the elderly. Elderly individuals are particularly affected, in part because vaccine efficacy wanes with age. This has been linked to a reduced ability to induce a robust serum antibody response. Here, we show that this is due to reduced quantities of vaccine-specific antibodies, rather than a lack of antibody avidity or affinity. We measured levels of vaccine-specific plasmablasts by ELISPOT 1 week after immunization of young and elderly adults with inactivated seasonal influenza vaccine. Plasmablast-derived polyclonal antibodies (PPAbs) were generated from bulk-cultured B cells, while recombinant monoclonal antibodies (re-mAbs) were produced from single plasmablasts. The frequency of vaccine-specific plasmablasts and the concentration of PPAbs were lower in the elderly than in young adults, whereas the yields of secreted IgG per plasmablast were not different. Differences were not detected in the overall vaccine-specific avidity or affinity of PPAbs and re-mAbs between the 2 age groups. In contrast, reactivity of the antibodies induced by the inactivated seasonal influenza vaccine toward the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus, which was not present in the vaccine, was higher in the elderly than in the young. These results indicate that the inferior antibody response to influenza vaccination in the elderly is primarily due to reduced quantities of vaccine-specific antibodies. They also suggest that exposure history affects the cross-reactivity of vaccination-induced antibodies.
PMCID: PMC3148747  PMID: 21785218
15.  A phase I clinical study of vaccination of melanoma patients with dendritic cells loaded with allogeneic apoptotic/necrotic melanoma cells. Analysis of toxicity and immune response to the vaccine and of IL-10 -1082 promoter genotype as predictor of disease progression 
Sixteen melanoma patients (1 stage IIC, 8 stage III, and 7 stage IV) were treated in a Phase I study with a vaccine (DC/Apo-Nec) composed of autologous dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with a mixture of apoptotic/necrotic allogeneic melanoma cell lines (Apo-Nec), to evaluate toxicity and immune responses. Also, IL-10 1082 genotype was analyzed in an effort to predict disease progression.
PBMC were obtained after leukapheresis and DCs were generated from monocytes cultured in the presence of GM-CSF and IL-4 in serum-free medium. Immature DCs were loaded with gamma-irradiated Apo-Nec cells and injected id without adjuvant. Cohorts of four patients were given four vaccines each with 5, 10, 15, or 20 × 106 DC/Apo-Nec cell per vaccine, two weeks apart. Immune responses were measured by ELISpot and tetramer analysis. Il-10 genotype was measured by PCR and corroborated by IL-10 production by stimulated PBMC.
Immature DCs efficiently phagocytosed melanoma Apo-Nec cells and matured after phagocytosis as evidenced by increased expression of CD83, CD80, CD86, HLA class I and II, and 75.2 ± 16% reduction in Dextran-FITC endocytosis. CCR7 was also up-regulated upon Apo-Nec uptake in DCs from all patients, and accordingly DC/Apo-Nec cells were able to migrate in vitro toward MIP-3 beta. The vaccine was well tolerated in all patients. The DTH score increased significantly in all patients after the first vaccination (Mann-Whitney Test, p < 0.05). The presence of CD8+T lymphocytes specific to gp100 and Melan A/MART-1 Ags was determined by ELISpot and tetramer analysis in five HLA-A*0201 patients before and after vaccination; one patient had stable elevated levels before and after vaccination; two increased their CD8 + levels, one had stable moderate and one had negligible levels. The analysis of IL-10 promoter -1082 polymorphism in the sixteen patients showed a positive correlation between AA genotype, accompanied by lower in vitro IL-10 production by stimulated PBMC, and faster melanoma progression after lymph nodes surgery (p = 0.04). With a mean follow-up of 49.5 months post-surgery, one stage IIC patient and 7/8 stage III patients remain NED but 7/7 stage IV patients have progressed.
We conclude that DC/Apo-Nec vaccine is safe, well tolerated and it may induce specific immunity against melanoma Ags. Patients with a low-producing IL-10 polymorphism appear to have a worst prognosis.
Trial registration (NHI) NCT00515983
PMCID: PMC2265680  PMID: 18221542
16.  Monocyte-derived dendritic cells loaded with a mixture of apoptotic/necrotic melanoma cells efficiently cross-present gp100 and MART-1 antigens to specific CD8+ T lymphocytes 
In the present study, we demonstrate, in rigorous fashion, that human monocyte-derived immature dendritic cells (DCs) can efficiently cross-present tumor-associated antigens when co-cultured with a mixture of human melanoma cells rendered apoptotic/necrotic by γ irradiation (Apo-Nec cells).
We evaluated the phagocytosis of Apo-Nec cells by FACS after PKH26 and PKH67 staining of DCs and Apo-Nec cells at different times of coculture. The kinetics of the process was also followed by electron microscopy. DCs maturation was also studied monitoring the expression of specific markers, migration towards specific chemokines and the ability to cross-present in vitro the native melanoma-associated Ags MelanA/MART-1 and gp100.
Apo-Nec cells were efficiently phagocytosed by immature DCs (iDC) (55 ± 10.5%) at 12 hs of coculture. By 12–24 hs we observed digested Apo-Nec cells inside DCs and large empty vacuoles as part of the cellular processing. Loading with Apo-Nec cells induced DCs maturation to levels achieved using LPS treatment, as measured by: i) the decrease in FITC – Dextran uptake (iDC: 81 ± 5%; DC/Apo-Nec 33 ± 12%); ii) the cell surface up-regulation of CD80, CD86, CD83, CCR7, CD40, HLA-I and HLA-II and iii) an increased in vitro migration towards MIP-3β. DC/Apo-Nec isolated from HLA-A*0201 donors were able to induce >600 pg/ml IFN-γ secretion of CTL clones specific for MelanA/MART-1 and gp100 Ags after 6 hs and up to 48 hs of coculture, demonstrating efficient cross-presentation of the native Ags. Intracellular IL-12 was detected in DC/Apo-Nec 24 hs post-coculture while IL-10 did not change.
We conclude that the use of a mixture of four apoptotic/necrotic melanoma cell lines is a suitable source of native melanoma Ags that provides maturation signals for DCs, increases migration to MIP-3β and allows Ag cross-presentation. This strategy could be exploited for vaccination of melanoma patients.
PMCID: PMC1863425  PMID: 17448240

Results 1-16 (16)