The association between life events, social support and antibody status following thymus-dependent and thymus-independent vaccinations in healthy young adults

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This study determined whether stressful life events and social support were related to antibody status following both thymus-dependent and thymus-independent vaccinations. Life events in the previous year and customary social support were measured in 57 healthy students at baseline. Antibody status was also assessed at baseline and at five weeks and five months following vaccination with the trivalent influenza vaccine and the meningococcal A+C polysaccharide vaccine. Taking into account baseline antibody titre, high life events scores prior to vaccination were associated with lower responses to the B/Shangdong influenza strain at both five weeks and five months and meningococcal C at five weeks. Life event scores were not associated with response to the other two influenza viral strains nor response to meningococcal A. Those with high social support scores had stronger 5-week and 5-month antibody responses to the A/Panama influenza strain, but not to any of the other strains. These associations could not be accounted for by demographic or health behaviour factors, and also emerged from analyses comparing those who exhibited a fourfold increase in antibody titre from baseline with those who did not. Life events and social support were related to antibody status following influenza vaccination in distinctive ways that may be partly determined by vaccine novelty and prior naturalistic exposure. Life events also predicted poor antibody response to meningococcal C polysaccharide vaccination after previous meningococcal C conjugate vaccination. Neither psychosocial factor was associated with response to primary meningococcal A polysaccharide vaccination.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-333
Number of pages9
JournalBrain, Behaviour, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2005


  • influenza vaccination, meningococcal polysaccharide A plus C vaccination, primary response, thymus-dependent, social support, secondary response, thymus-independent, stressful life events

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