Access: Lupus Research -- Flu Vaccines
Research Summaries from 2011
Variable Effects of Two Influenza A (H1N1) Vaccinations in People with Lupus
Most of the world’s population had little or no pre-existing immunological protection against the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. People with lupus were considered to be at especially high risk and were recommended for vaccination. Relatively little is known, however, about the effects of influenza vaccinations in people with lupus. This vaccination had variable effects in people with lupus and depended on their white blood cell count and on whether they were taking immune-suppressing drugs. The results highlight the importance of acquiring increased knowledge about and perhaps developing additional strategies for vaccinating people with lupus against influenza A (H1N1).
Research Summaries from 2010
Immunosuppressants Render Flu Vaccination Less Effective in People With Lupus
The immune system fights off the flu in different ways. One way is by making antibodies (immune proteins) that recognize the flu virus and attack it. Another way is by activating certain white blood cells to fight the virus; this is called "cell-mediated immunity." Since cell-mediated responses to the influenza vaccine also influence how well the vaccine will work, it is important to understand how lupus may affect the body’s cell-mediated response to the vaccine.
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A Second Flu Shot Might Be More Effective in Some People With Lupus
One of the ways that the immune system fights off the flu is by making antibodies (immune proteins) that can recognize the flu virus and attack it. The immune system can also make little chemicals called "cytokines" that signal to the white blood cells to make more of these antibodies when there is a virus in the bloodstream. The flu shot is made with dead virus that can help a patient make protecting antibodies but won’t cause the full flu infection to start up. In this way, individuals can be protected in advance before they are exposed to the flu that is "going around" in their community. Some lupus patients make fewer antibodies to the flu shot than most people, and there is some concern that medications for lupus can reduce the response to the flu shot since they can suppress the immune system in other ways. If there was a way to increase these responses, then the flu shot might be more effective for people with lupus.
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