Date of Award

Winter 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemistry & Biochemistry

Committee Director

Janet McElhaney

Committee Member

Patricia Pleban

Committee Member

Ann Campbell

Committee Member

Stefan Gravenstein


Influenza infections result in activation of cellular and humoral immune responses, leading to stimulation of cytotoxic T cells (CTL) and helper T cells with subsequent viral clearance.

By using an assay of granzyme B activity, the in vivo cellular-mediated immune response of old adults was found to be significantly decreased in comparison to young adults. The effect of aging on the CTL response was further investigated via enzyme-linked immunospot technique. A significant increase in number of virus-specific T cells occurred in older adults after vaccination, although the magnitude of the CTL response decreased in comparison to young adults. These data suggest that a mechanistic defect in the CTL response caused the decreased response of the CD8+ T cells in older adults; and provides a basis for further investigation of age-related changes in the mechanism of the CTL response to influenza vaccination in older adults.


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