Boosting the VZV-Specific Memory B and T Cell Response to Prevent Herpes Zoster After Kidney Transplantation

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Background: Solid organ transplant recipients are at high risk to develop (complicated) herpes zoster (HZ). Booster vaccination could prevent HZ. However, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients show poor immunological responses to vaccinations. We studied the effect of a live attenuated VZV booster vaccine on VZV-specific B and T cell memory responses in ESRD patients and healthy controls. NL28557.000.09, Methods: VZV-seropositive patients, aged ≥50 years, awaiting kidney transplantation, were vaccinated with Zostavax®. Gender and age-matched VZV-seropositive potential living kidney donors were included as controls. VZV-specific IgG titers were measured before, at 1, 3 and 12 months post-vaccination. VZV-specific B and T cell responses before, at 3 months and 1 year after vaccination were analysed by flow-cytometry and Elispot, respectively. Occurrence of HZ was assessed at 5 years post-vaccination. Results: 26 patients and 27 donors were included. Median VZV-specific IgG titers were significantly higher at all time-points post-vaccination in patients (mo 1: 3104 IU/ml [1967-3825], p<0.0001; mo 3: 2659 [1615-3156], p=0.0002; mo 12: 1988 [1104-2989], p=0.01 vs. pre: 1397 [613-2248]) and in donors (mo 1: 2981 [2126-3827], p<0.0001; mo 3: 2442 [2014-3311], p<0.0001; mo 12: 1788 [1368-2460], p=0.0005 vs. pre: 1034 [901-1744]. The patients’ IgG titers were comparable to the donors’ at all time-points. The ratio VZV-specific B cells of total IgG producing memory B cells had increased 3 months post-vaccination in patients (0.85 [0.65-1.34] vs. pre: 0.56 [0.35-0.81], p=0.003) and donors (0.85 [0.63-1.06] vs. pre: 0.53 [0.36-0.79], p<0.0001) and remained stable thereafter in donors. One year post-vaccination, the percentage of CD4+ central memory cells had increased in both patients (0.29 [0.08-0.38] vs. 0.12 [0.05-0.29], p=0.005) and donors (0.12 [0.03-0.37] vs. 0.09 [0.01-0.20], p=0.002) and CD4+ effector memory cells had increased in donors (0.07 [0.02-0.14] vs. 0.04 [0.01-0.12], p=0.007). Only 1 patient experienced HZ, which was non-complicated. Conclusion: VZV booster vaccination increases VZV-specific IgG titers and percentage VZV-specific memory T-cells for at least 1 year both in ESRD patients and healthy controls. VZV-specific memory B cells significantly increased in patients up to 3 months after vaccination. Prophylactic VZV booster vaccination prior to transplantation could reduce HZ incidence and severity after transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number927734
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author MK received a honorarium for participation in a scientific advisory board from Takeda. Author DH has received lecture fees and consulting fees from Astellas Pharma, Chiesi Pharma, Medincell, Novartis Pharma, Sangamo Therapeutics and Vifor Pharma. He has received grant support from Astellas Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Chiesi Pharma [paid to his institution]. Author DA Hesselink does not have employment or stock ownership at any of these companies, and neither does he have patents or patent applications.

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by a research grant from the Investigator-Sponsored Studies Program of Sanofi Pasteur MSD. Sanofi Pasteur MSD supplied the Zostavax vaccines for this study grant number: ZOS-2010-002. ®

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Kho, Weimar, Malahe, Zuijderwijk, de Kuiper, Boer-Verschragen, Eijk, Hesselink, Reinders and van Besouw.


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