Vaccination is a measure to reduce the impact of influenza; however, it takes 6 months to prepare a vaccine [16
]. Virus isolates from humans usually do not grow well in embryonated chicken eggs, which poses significant limitations for influenza vaccine production. Attempts to increase the yield of candidate vaccine strains have been made by multiple passages in eggs over time or genetic reassortment with a high growth laboratory strain [17
]. To prepare for pandemic influenza, a virus library of non-pathogenic influenza A viruses with 144 combinations of 16 HA and 9 NA subtypes has been established [15
]. In the present study, we selected vaccine strains from 18 H1N1 virus isolates from birds, pigs, and humans on the basis of their growth in embryonated chicken eggs and their antigenicity. Among these viruses, the yield of Sw/Hok/81 in embryonated chicken eggs showed 108.3
PFU/ml, which is higher than that of Narita/09 (107.3
PFU/ml), indicating that a virus strain selected from the influenza virus library could be used for the vaccine strain.
The 1957 and 1968 pandemic influenza virus strains were reassortants of avian and human strains [19
]. Kida et al
. showed that viruses in pigs are in antigenically stasis, as are those in ducks, compared with influenza viruses in humans [9
]. The present results of antigenic analysis of H1N1 viruses indicate that pandemic 2009 (H1N1) virus was antigenically similar to that of classical swine influenza viruses, not to that of human influenza viruses, as previously described by Garten et al
]. Although we cannot predict the subtype of the pandemic strain, the antigenicity of the virus is conserved in pigs or ducks. Thus, antigenically related strains isolated from natural hosts could be used for human pandemic influenza vaccines. In order to update the influenza virus library as a seed of vaccine strains, continuous surveillance of avian and swine influenza and the study of pathogenicity, antigenicity, genetic information, and yield in chicken embryo of virus strains are needed.
In the present study, to prepare for future pandemics, we evaluated the potency of a vaccine prepared from Sw/Hok/81 against the pandemic 2009 (H1N1) virus. It was revealed that mice injected with WV or ES vaccine prepared from Sw/Hok/81 induced immunity to suppress the disease manifestation after challenge with Narita/09, although an antigenic difference was observed in these viruses. WV vaccine induces higher immune responses after intramuscular immunization and is superior to ES and subunit vaccine in human populations [20
]. The reason for these immune responses to WV vaccine is the stimulation of innate [22
] and cell-mediated immune responses to internal viral proteins. Indeed, identity of NP protein between Sw/Hok/81 and Narita/09 were 96.9%. In the previous studies, WV vaccine prepared from a virus strain selected from the library also showed protective efficacy against H5 and H7 virus infection in chicken, mice and cynomolgus macaques [23
]. These results suggest that WV vaccine should work best in immunologically naive people in the early phase of a pandemic and two injections of the vaccine will be more effective even if the antigenicity of the pandemic strain is partially different from the vaccine strain.