DNA priming improves the response to inactivated influenza A(H5N1) vaccination. We compared the immunogenicity of an H5 DNA prime (using strain A/Indonesia/5/2005) followed by an H5N1 monovalent inactivated vaccine boost at 4, 8, 12, 16, or 24 weeks to that of 2 doses of H5N1 monovalent inactivated vaccine in adults. Antibody epitope repertoires were elucidated by genome-fragment phage-display library analysis, and antibody avidities for HA1 and HA2 domains were measured by surface plasmon resonance. H5 DNA priming expanded the H5-specific antibody epitope repertoire and enhanced antibody avidity to the HA1 (but not the HA2) domain in an interval-dependent manner. Enhanced HA1 binding and avidity after an interval of ≥12 weeks between prime and boost correlated with improved neutralization of homologous and heterologous H5N1 strains. Clinical trials registration NCT01086657.
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