Protein/AS01B vaccination elicits stronger, more Th2-skewed antigen-specific human T follicular helper cell responses than heterologous viral vectors.
Nielsen CM., Ogbe A., Pedroza-Pacheco I., Doeleman SE., Chen Y., Silk SE., Barrett JR., Elias SC., Miura K., Diouf A., Bardelli M., Dabbs RA., Barfod L., Long CA., Haynes BF., Payne RO., Minassian AM., Bradley T., Draper SJ., Borrow P.
Interactions between B cells and CD4+ T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are key determinants of humoral responses. Using samples from clinical trials performed with the malaria vaccine candidate antigen Plasmodium falciparum merozoite protein (PfRH5), we compare the frequency, phenotype, and gene expression profiles of PfRH5-specific circulating Tfh (cTfh) cells elicited by two leading human vaccine delivery platforms: heterologous viral vector prime boost and protein with AS01B adjuvant. We demonstrate that the protein/AS01B platform induces a higher-magnitude antigen-specific cTfh cell response and that this correlates with peak anti-PfRH5 IgG concentrations, frequency of PfRH5-specific memory B cells, and antibody functionality. Furthermore, our data indicate a greater Th2/Tfh2 skew within the polyfunctional response elicited following vaccination with protein/AS01B as compared to a Th1/Tfh1 skew with viral vectors. These data highlight the impact of vaccine platform on the cTfh cell response driving humoral immunity, associating a high-magnitude, Th2-biased cTfh response with potent antibody production.