Skip to main content

Volume 9 Supplement 2

AIDS Vaccine 2012

Peripheral T follicular helper cells from H1N1/09 vaccine nonresponders fail to induce antigen-specific antibody production in vitro


Mechanisms underlying poor Ab responses to vaccines in well controlled HIV infected patients are not fully understood. In this study we have examined the role of a novel subset, the peripheral T follicular helper cells (pTFH) in Ab production.


The study was conducted in cryopreserved cells of 16 HIV-infected, ART-treated individuals and 8 healthy donors (HD) who had been given a single dose of H1N1/09 influenza vaccine in 2009. Only 8 of the 16 patients and all HD had a flu-Ab response at 4 wks post vaccination. Vaccine responder (VR) and non responder (VNR) patients were equivalent in mean age, viral load, CD4 and CD8 T and B cells. B (CD20+) and TFH (CD3+ CD4+ CD45RA– CXCR5+) cells were purified by cell sorting on a FACS ARIA and co-cultured. IgG levels in culture supernatants were determined by ELISA. B and T cell phenotypic analysis was performed by multicolor flow cytometry. Differences between groups were analyzed by Student t-test or the 2-sample Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann-Whitney) test.


Frequency of pTFH was equivalent in HIV+ patients and HD before vaccination. pTFH cells underwent significant expansion at wk4 compared to baseline in VR patients (p= 0.003) and HD (p= 0.001) with increased frequency of Ki67+ cells. In VR, H1N1-specific IgG production was evident in CD4+ CXCR5+/B cell co-cultures but not in CD4+ CXCR5–/B cell co-cultures [HIV+ n = 3; p = 0.043] and [HD n=3; p = 0.014], concurrently with increase in frequencies of plasmablasts. These changes were not seen in vaccine nonresponders.


pTFH cells promote antigen-specific Ab production by B cells in vitro. Although their relationship to lymph node germinal center TFH has not been clarified, analysis of pTFH function represents a novel and easily accessible surrogate marker for vaccine responsiveness in stable HIV infected patients with equivalent CD4 T cells.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Parmigiani, A., Pallikkuth, S., Silva, S. et al. Peripheral T follicular helper cells from H1N1/09 vaccine nonresponders fail to induce antigen-specific antibody production in vitro. Retrovirology 9 (Suppl 2), P277 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Influenza
  • Healthy Donor
  • Influenza Vaccine
  • Cryopreserved Cell
  • Multicolor Flow Cytometry