Early Innate Immune Responses to Hepatitis B Vaccination Using Single Cell RNA Sequencing

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Single cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) provides a powerful tool to explore the cellular diversity of complex biological samples. We have used scRNAseq to explore the innate immune cell response (monocytes, NKs, mDCs, pDCs, neutrophils) to a single dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine to determine if any cellular signatures might correlate with vaccine responses. Clustering of the scRNAseq transcriptional profiles identified two mDC subsets with differential representation pre- and post-vaccination.

Although the numbers are small, Day 0 samples that had a relatively high proportion of the minor mDC subtype, the NDRG2-expressing mDCs, generated anti-HepB serum antibodies in response to a single vaccination dose, whereas Day 0 samples that had relatively low proportions did not. These preliminary results suggest that the relative proportions of mDC subtypes in peripheral blood may be a predictor of vaccine responses and raise the possibility that pre-conditioning patients to increase the relative proportion of NDRG2-expressing mDCs may be an effective strategy to boost vaccine efficacy.

This work is funded by the Human Vaccines Project.