Obesity and Metabolic Dysregulation in Children Provide Protective Influenza Vaccine Responses

Mundeep K. Kainth, Joanna S. Fishbein, Teresa Aydillo, Alba Escalera, Rachael Odusanya, Kalliopi Grammatikopoulos, Tiffany Scotto, Christine B. Sethna, Adolfo García-Sastre, Clifford S. Deutschman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The most effective intervention for influenza prevention is vaccination. However, there are conflicting data on influenza vaccine antibody responses in obese children. Cardio-metabolic parameters such as waist circumference, cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure are used to subdivide individuals with overweight or obese BMI into ‘healthy’ (MHOO) or ‘unhealthy’ (MUOO) metabolic phenotypes. The ever-evolving metabolic phenotypes in children may be eluci-dated by using vaccine stimulation to characterize cytokine responses. We conducted a prospective cohort study evaluating influenza vaccine responses in children. Participants were identified as either normal-weight children (NWC) or overweight/obese using BMI. Children with obesity were then characterized using metabolic health metrics. These metrics consisted of changes in serum cytokine and chemokine concentrations measured via multiplex assay at baseline and repeated at one month following vaccination. Changes in NWC, MHOO and MUOO were compared using Chi-square/Fisher’s exact test for antibody responses and Kruskal–Wallis test for cytokines. Dif-ferences in influenza antibody responses in normal, MHOO and MUOO children were statistically indistinguishable. IL-13 was decreased in MUOO children compared to NWC and MHOO children (p = 0.04). IL-10 approached a statistically significant decrease in MUOO compared to MHOO and NWC (p = 0.07). Influenza vaccination does not provoke different responses in NCW, MHOO, or MUOO children, suggesting that obesity, whether metabolically healthy or unhealthy, does not alter the efficacy of vaccination. IL-13 levels in MUO children were significantly different from levels in normal and MHOO children, indicating that the metabolically unhealthy phenotypes may be associated with an altered inflammatory response. A larger sample size with greater numbers of metabolically unhealthy children may lend more insight into the relationship of chronic inflammation secondary to obesity with vaccine immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Influenza vaccine
  • Metabolic health
  • Pediatric obesity


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