Patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) experience a prolonged period of dysfunctional immunity associated with an increased risk of bacterial and viral infections. Effective approaches toward vaccinating patients against common pathogens are being explored but are limited by poor levels of responsiveness. Relevant studies examining the nature of reconstitution of cellular and humoral immunity and its impact on vaccination strategies against infectious pathogens are reviewed. Following transplantation, deficiencies in cellular immunity are characterized by the inversion of CD4/CD8 ratios, a decreased proliferative response to mitogens, and the development of anergy to recall antigens as measured by delayed-type hypersensitivity testing. The impact on humoral immunity consists of decreased levels of circulating immunoglobulin, impaired immunoglobulin class switching, and a loss of complexity in immunoglobulin gene rearrangement patterns. In this setting, a loss of protective immunity has been demonstrated against viral and bacterial pathogens previously targeted by childhood vaccination. Infections due to encapsulated bacterial organisms such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type B remain prevalent even in the late posttransplantation period. The efficacy of vaccination following HSCT is influenced by the time elapsed since transplantation, the nature of the hematopoietic graft, the use of serial immunization, and the presence of graft-versus-host disease. Strategies to enhance vaccine efficacy include pretransplantation immunization of the stem cell donor and the use of cytokine adjuvants.
- Posttransplantation immunization
- Posttransplantation infection
- Reconstitution of immunity
ASJC Scopus subject areas