Vaccination and heterologous immunity: educating the immune system

Student Author(s)

Laurie L. Kenney; Levi B. Watkin

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology

Publication Date


Document Type



Allergy and Immunology | Immunity | Immunopathology | Immunoprophylaxis and Therapy | Public Health


This review discusses three inter-related topics: (1) the immaturity of the neonatal and infant immune response; (2) heterologous immunity, where prior infection history with unrelated pathogens alters disease outcome resulting in either enhanced protective immunity or increased immunopathology to new infections, and (3) epidemiological human vaccine studies that demonstrate vaccines can have beneficial or detrimental effects on subsequent unrelated infections. The results from the epidemiological and heterologous immunity studies suggest that the immune system has tremendous plasticity and that each new infection or vaccine that an individual is exposed to during a lifetime will potentially alter the dynamics of their immune system. It also suggests that each new infection or vaccine that an infant receives is not only perturbing the immune system but is educating the immune system and laying down the foundation for all subsequent responses. This leads to the question, is there an optimum way to educate the immune system? Should this be taken into consideration in our vaccination protocols?

DOI of Published Version



Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Jan;109(1):62-9. doi: 10.1093/trstmh/tru198. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID