The effect of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization on the immune responses of previously immunized primary school children

Bracha Rager-Zisman, Elina Bazarsky, Agneta Skibin, Shlomo Chamney, Ilana Belmaker, Iris Shai, Ella Kordysh, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Current policies for measles control call for administration of a second dose of vaccine to immunize those who failed to respond to the initial dose and to boost the responses of those with low levels of antibody. However, there has been concern expressed publicly that reimmunization may have adverse immunologic consequences. To determine the effects of reimmunization on immune responses, primary school children (N=38, mean age=6.14±0.35 years) with documented previous measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) immunization during infancy 4-5 years earlier were studied before and 1 month after receiving MMR as a part of routine reimmunization in Beer-Sheva, Israel. A substantial number of children were seronegative to measles (24%), mumps (34%) and rubella (44%). On reimmunization all seroconverted to mumps and rubella and all but one (92%) seroconverted to measles. The geometric mean titer of measles virus neutralizing antibody increased from 171 to 724 and the greatest increases occurred in those with the lowest pre-immunization titers. Moderate increases in levels of total IgM, IgG and IgE were detected in those with increases in antibody to measles virus. After reimmunization leukocyte counts decreased significantly from (5.8×106)±2.3 to (3.4×106)±0.7ml-1 (P=0.0001). The percentages of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells decreased while the CD4:CD8 ratio remained unchanged. The percentage of CD56+ natural killer (NK) cells increased from 5.2±2.7 to 7.2±2.8 (P=0.01). Functional assays showed improved lymphoproliferation in response to stimulation with phytohemagglutinin and tetanus toxoid and stable NK lytic activity. Therefore, reimmunization was accompanied by decreased leukocyte counts, but leukocyte function was unchanged or improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2580-2588
Number of pages9
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - 2 Jun 2003


  • Leukocytes
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • NK cells
  • Reimmunization
  • Rubella
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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