Long-term measles-induced immunomodulation increases overall childhood infectious disease mortality

Michael J. Mina, C. Jessica E. Metcalf, Rik L. De Swart, A. D.M.E. Osterhaus, Bryan T. Grenfell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


Immunosuppression after measles is known to predispose people to opportunistic infections for a period of several weeks to months. Using population-level data, we show that measles has a more prolonged effect on host resistance, extending over 2 to 3 years. We find that nonmeasles infectious disease mortality in high-income countries is tightly coupled to measles incidence at this lag, in both the pre- and post-vaccine eras. We conclude that long-term immunologic sequelae of measles drive interannual fluctuations in nonmeasles deaths. This is consistent with recent experimental work that attributes the immunosuppressive effects of measles to depletion of B and T lymphocytes. Our data provide an explanation for the long-term benefits of measles vaccination in preventing all-cause infectious disease. By preventing measles-associated immune memory loss, vaccination protects polymicrobial herd immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-699
Number of pages6
Issue number6235
StatePublished - May 8 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Long-term measles-induced immunomodulation increases overall childhood infectious disease mortality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this