Live attenuated cold-adapted (ca) H5N1, H7N3, H6N1, and H9N2 influenza vaccine viruses replicated in the respiratory tract of mice and ferrets, and 2 doses of vaccines were immunogenic and protected these animals from challenge infection with homologous and heterologous wild-type (wt) viruses of the corresponding subtypes. However, when these vaccine candidates were evaluated in phase I clinical trials, there were inconsistencies between the observations in animal models and in humans. The vaccine viruses did not replicate well and immune responses were variable in humans, even though the study subjects were seronegative with respect to the vaccine viruses before vaccination. Therefore, we sought a model that would better reflect the findings in humans and evaluated African green monkeys (AGMs) as a nonhuman primate model. The distribution of sialic acid (SA) receptors in the respiratory tract of AGMs was similar to that in humans. We evaluated the replication of wt and ca viruses of avian influenza (AI) virus subtypes H5N1, H6N1, H7N3, and H9N2 in the respiratory tract of AGMs. All of the wt viruses replicated efficiently, while replication of the ca vaccine viruses was restricted to the upper respiratory tract. Interestingly, the patterns and sites of virus replication differed among the different subtypes. We also evaluated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of H5N1, H6N1, H7N3, and H9N2 ca vaccines. Protection from wt virus challenge correlated well with the level of serum neutralizing antibodies. Immune responses were slightly better when vaccine was delivered by both intranasal and intratracheal delivery than when it was delivered intranasally by sprayer. We conclude that live attenuated pandemic influenza virus vaccines replicate similarly in AGMs and human subjects and that AGMs may be a useful model to evaluate the replication of ca vaccine candidates.
IMPORTANCE Ferrets and mice are commonly used for preclinical evaluation of influenza vaccines. However, we observed significant inconsistencies between observations in humans and in these animal models. We used African green monkeys (AGMs) as a nonhuman primate (NHP) model for a comprehensive and comparative evaluation of pairs of wild-type and pandemic live attenuated influenza virus vaccines (pLAIV) representing four subtypes of avian influenza viruses and found that pLAIVs replicate similarly in AGMs and humans and that AGMs can be useful for evaluation of the protective efficacy of pLAIV.
The spread of highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza viruses since 1997 and their virulence for poultry and humans has raised concerns about their potential to cause an influenza pandemic. Vaccines offer the most viable means to combat a pandemic threat. However, it will be a challenge to produce, distribute and implement a new vaccine if a pandemic spreads rapidly. Therefore, efforts are being undertaken to develop pandemic vaccines that use less antigen and induce cross-protective and long-lasting responses, that can be administered as soon as a pandemic is declared or possibly even before, in order to prime the population and allow for a rapid and protective antibody response. In the last few years, several vaccine manufacturers have developed candidate pandemic and pre-pandemic vaccines, based on reverse genetics and have improved the immunogenicity by formulating these vaccines with different adjuvants. Some of the important and consistent observations from clinical studies with H5N1 vaccines are as follows: two doses of inactivated vaccine are generally necessary to elicit the level of immunity required to meet licensure criteria, less antigen can be used if an oil-in-water adjuvant is included, in general antibody titers decline rapidly but can be boosted with additional doses of vaccine and if high titers of antibody are elicited, cross-reactivity against other clades is observed. Prime-boost strategies elicit a more robust immune response. In this review, we discuss data from clinical trials with a variety of H5N1 influenza vaccines. We also describe studies conducted in animal models to explore the possibility of reassortment between pandemic live attenuated vaccine candidates and seasonal influenza viruses, since this is an important consideration for the use of live vaccines in a pandemic setting.
H5N1; vaccine strategies; pandemic; adjuvants; clinical trials
Live attenuated H7N9 influenza vaccine viruses that possess the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) gene segments from the newly emerged wild-type (wt) A/Anhui/1/2013 (H7N9) and six internal protein gene segments from the cold-adapted influenza virus A/Ann Arbor/6/60 (AA ca) were generated by reverse genetics. The reassortant virus containing the original wt A/Anhui/1/2013 HA and NA sequences replicated poorly in eggs. Multiple variants with amino acid substitutions in the HA head domain that improved viral growth were identified by viral passage in eggs and MDCK cells. The selected vaccine virus containing two amino acid changes (N133D/G198E) in the HA improved viral titer by more than 10-fold (reached a titer of 108.6 fluorescent focus units/ml) without affecting viral antigenicity. Introduction of these amino acid changes into an H7N9 PR8 reassortant virus also significantly improved viral titers and HA protein yield in eggs. The H7N9 ca vaccine virus was immunogenic in ferrets. A single dose of vaccine conferred complete protection of ferrets from homologous wt A/Anhui/1/2013 (H7N9) and nearly complete protection from heterologous wt A/Netherlands/219/2003 (H7N7) challenge infection. Therefore, this H7N9 live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) candidate has been selected for vaccine manufacture and clinical evaluation to protect humans from wt H7N9 virus infection.
IMPORTANCE In response to the recent avian H7N9 influenza virus infection in humans, we developed a live attenuated H7N9 influenza vaccine (LAIV) with two amino acid substitutions in the viral HA protein that improved vaccine yield by 10-fold in chicken embryonated eggs, the substrate for vaccine manufacture. The two amino acids also improved the antigen yield for inactivated H7N9 vaccines, demonstrating that this finding could great facilitate the efficiency of H7N9 vaccine manufacture. The candidate H7N9 LAIV was immunogenic and protected ferrets against homologous and heterologous wild-type H7 virus challenge, making it suitable for use in protecting humans from H7 infection.
The hypothesis of original antigenic sin (OAS) states that the imprint established by an individual's first influenza virus infection governs the antibody response thereafter. Subsequent influenza virus infection results in an antibody response against the original infecting virus and an impaired immune response against the newer influenza virus. The purpose of our study was to seek evidence of OAS after infection or vaccination with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 (2009 pH1N1) virus in ferrets and humans previously infected with H1N1 viruses with various antigenic distances from the 2009 pH1N1 virus, including viruses from 1935 through 1999. In ferrets, seasonal H1N1 priming did not diminish the antibody response to infection or vaccination with the 2009 pH1N1 virus, nor did it diminish the T-cell response, indicating the absence of OAS in seasonal H1N1 virus-primed ferrets. Analysis of paired samples of human serum taken before and after vaccination with a monovalent inactivated 2009 pH1N1 vaccine showed a significantly greater-fold rise in the titer of antibody against the 2009 pH1N1 virus than against H1N1 viruses that circulated during the childhood of each subject. Thus, prior experience with H1N1 viruses did not result in an impairment of the antibody response against the 2009 pH1N1 vaccine. Our data from ferrets and humans suggest that prior exposure to H1N1 viruses did not impair the immune response against the 2009 pH1N1 virus.
Human influenza viruses predominantly bind α2,6 linked sialic acid (SA) while avian viruses bind α2,3 SA-containing complex glycans. Virulence and tissue tropism of influenza viruses have been ascribed to this binding preference. We generated 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) viruses with either predominant α2,3 or α2,6 SA binding and evaluated these viruses in mice and ferrets. The α2,3 pH1N1 virus had similar virulence in mice and replicated to similar titers in the respiratory tract of mice and ferrets as the α2,6 and WT pH1N1 viruses. Immunohistochemical analysis determined that all viruses infected similar cell types in ferret lungs. There is increasing evidence that receptor specificity of influenza viruses is more complex than the binary model of α2,6 and α2,3 SA binding and our data suggest that influenza viruses use a wide range of SA moieties to infect host cells.
Influenza Virus; Tissue Tropism; Virulence; Receptor Specificity; Replication
H2 influenza viruses have not circulated in humans since 1968, and therefore a significant portion of the population would be susceptible to infection should H2 influenza viruses reemerge. H2 influenza viruses continue to circulate in avian reservoirs worldwide, and these reservoirs are a potential source from which these viruses could emerge. Three reassortant cold-adapted (ca) H2 pandemic influenza vaccine candidates with hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes derived from the wild-type A/Japan/305/1957 (H2N2) (Jap/57), A/mallard/6750/1978 (H2N2) (mal/78), or A/swine/MO/4296424/2006 (H2N3) (sw/06) viruses and the internal protein gene segments from the A/Ann Arbor/6/60 ca virus were generated by plasmid-based reverse genetics (Jap/57 ca, mal/78 ca, and sw/06 ca, respectively). The vaccine candidates exhibited the in vitro phenotypes of temperature sensitivity and cold adaptation and were restricted in replication in the respiratory tract of ferrets. In mice and ferrets, the vaccines elicited neutralizing antibodies and conferred protection against homologous wild-type virus challenge. Of the three candidates, the sw/06 ca vaccine elicited cross-reactive antibodies and provided significant protection against the greatest number of heterologous viruses. These observations suggest that the sw/06 ca vaccine should be further evaluated in a clinical trial as an H2 pandemic influenza vaccine candidate.
IMPORTANCE Influenza pandemics arise when novel influenza viruses are introduced into a population with little prior immunity to the new virus and often result in higher rates of illness and death than annual seasonal influenza epidemics. An influenza H2 subtype virus caused a pandemic in 1957, and H2 viruses circulated in humans till 1968. H2 influenza viruses continue to circulate in birds, and the development of an H2 influenza vaccine candidate is therefore considered a priority in preparing for future pandemics. However, we cannot predict whether a human H2 virus will reemerge or a novel avian H2 virus will emerge. We identified three viruses as suitable candidates for further evaluation as vaccines to protect against H2 influenza viruses and evaluated the immune responses and protection that these three vaccines provided in mice and ferrets.
Vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the impact of epidemic as well as pandemic influenza. However, the licensed inactivated influenza vaccine induces strain-specific immunity and must be updated annually. When novel viruses appear, matched vaccines are not likely to be available in time for the first wave of a pandemic. Yet, the enormous diversity of influenza A viruses in nature makes it impossible to predict which subtype or strain will cause the next pandemic. Several recent scientific advances have generated renewed enthusiasm and hope for universal vaccines that will induce broad protection from a range of influenza viruses.
Influenza virus; Universal vaccine
The substitution of glutamic acid (E) for lysine (K) at position 627 of the PB2 protein of avian H5N1 viruses has been identified as a virulence and host range determinant for infection of mammals. Here, we report that the E-to-K host-adaptive mutation in the PB2 gene appeared from day 4 and 5 along the respiratory tracts of mice and was complete by day 6 postinoculation. This mutation correlated with efficient replication of the virus in mice.
Background. Dengue virus (DENV) causes hundreds of millions of infections annually. Four dengue serotypes exist, and previous infection with one serotype increases the likelihood of severe disease with a second, heterotypic DENV infection.
Methods. In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, the safety and immunogenicity of 4 different admixtures of a live attenuated tetravalent (LATV) dengue vaccine were evaluated in 113 flavivirus-naive adults. Serum neutralizing antibody levels to all 4 dengue viruses were measured on days 0, 28, 42, and 180.
Results. A single dose of each LATV admixture induced a trivalent or better neutralizing antibody response in 75%–90% of vaccinees. There was no significant difference in the incidence of adverse events between vaccinees and placebo-recipients other than rash. A trivalent or better response correlated with rash and with non-black race (P < .0001). Black race was significantly associated with a reduced incidence of vaccine viremia.
Conclusions. TV003 induced a trivalent or greater antibody response in 90% of flavivirus-naive vaccinees and is a promising candidate for the prevention of dengue. Race was identified as a factor influencing the infectivity of the LATV viruses, reflecting observations of the effect of race on disease severity in natural dengue infection.
Clinical Trials Registration NCT01072786.
dengue vaccine; live attenuated tetravalent; clinical trial
Reassortment of influenza viral RNA (vRNA) segments in co-infected cells can lead to the emergence of viruses with pandemic potential. Replication of influenza vRNA occurs in the nucleus of infected cells, while progeny virions bud from the plasma membrane. However, the intracellular mechanics of vRNA assembly into progeny virions is not well understood. Here we used recent advances in microscopy to explore vRNA assembly and transport during a productive infection. We visualized four distinct vRNA segments within a single cell using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and observed that foci containing more than one vRNA segment were found at the external nuclear periphery, suggesting that vRNA segments are not exported to the cytoplasm individually. Although many cytoplasmic foci contain multiple vRNA segments, not all vRNA species are present in every focus, indicating that assembly of all eight vRNA segments does not occur prior to export from the nucleus. To extend the observations made in fixed cells, we used a virus that encodes GFP fused to the viral polymerase acidic (PA) protein (WSN PA-GFP) to explore the dynamics of vRNA assembly in live cells during a productive infection. Since WSN PA-GFP colocalizes with viral nucleoprotein and influenza vRNA segments, we used it as a surrogate for visualizing vRNA transport in 3D and at high speed by inverted selective-plane illumination microscopy. We observed cytoplasmic PA-GFP foci colocalizing and traveling together en route to the plasma membrane. Our data strongly support a model in which vRNA segments are exported from the nucleus as complexes that assemble en route to the plasma membrane through dynamic colocalization events in the cytoplasm.
Influenza A viruses, containing eight single stranded RNA segments, cause seasonal epidemics and occasional pandemics. Reassortment of the influenza viral genome in co-infected cells confers an evolutionary advantage for the virus, and can result in viruses with pandemic potential like the 2009 pandemic H1N1 and 2013 H7N9 virus. Replication of the viral genome occurs in the nucleus of the host cell and the progeny viral RNA (vRNA) segments must be transported to the plasma membrane for budding. The dynamics of vRNA assembly into progeny virions remains unknown. We used novel techniques to visualize the 3D-localization of four distinct vRNA segments in an infected cell and a fluorescent virus to visualize vRNA transport during a productive infection to determine where, when and how assembly occurs. Our data suggest that vRNA segments are exported from the nucleus as subcomplexes that undergo additional assembly en route to the plasma membrane through dynamic fusion events of vRNA-containing cytoplasmic foci. These observations have broad implications for understanding the intracellular requirements behind reassortment of influenza viruses and may lead to the development of new antiviral targets.
Background. The generation of heterovariant immunity is a highly desirable feature of influenza vaccines. The goal of this study was to compare the heterovariant B-cell response induced by the monovalent inactivated 2009 pandemic influenza A virus subtype H1N1 (A[H1N1]pdm09) vaccine with that induced by the 2009 seasonal trivalent influenza vaccine (sTIV) containing a seasonal influenza A virus subtype H1N1 (A[H1N1]) component in young and elderly adults.
Methods. Plasmablast-derived polyclonal antibodies (PPAb) from young and elderly recipients of A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine or sTIV were tested for binding activity to various influenza antigens.
Results. In A(H1N1)pdm09 recipients, the PPAb titers against homotypic A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine were similar to those against the heterovariant seasonal A(H1N1) vaccine and were similar between young and elderly subjects. The PPAb avidity was higher among elderly individuals, compared with young individuals. In contrast, the young sTIV recipients had 10-fold lower heterovariant PPAb titers against the A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine than against the homotypic seasonal A(H1N1) vaccine. In binding assays with recombinant head and stalk domains of hemagglutinin, PPAb from the A(H1N1)pdm09 recipients but not PPAb from the sTIV recipients bound to the conserved stalk domain.
Conclusion. The A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine induced production of PPAb with heterovariant reactivity, including antibodies targeting the conserved hemagglutinin stalk domain.
influenza; vaccine; antibody; cross-reactivity
Live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) against a variety of strains of pandemic potential are being developed and tested. We describe the results of an open label Phase I trial of a live attenuated H2N2 virus vaccine.
To evaluate the safety, infectivity and immunogenicity of a live attenuated H2N2 influenza virus vaccine.
The A/Ann Arbor/6/60 (H2N2) virus used in this study is the attenuated, cold-adapted, temperature-sensitive strain that provides the genetic backbone of seasonal LAIV (MedImmune). We evaluated the safety, infectivity, and immunogenicity of two doses of 107TCID50 of this vaccine administered by nasal spray 4 weeks apart to normal healthy seronegative adults.
Twenty-one participants received a first dose of the vaccine; 18 participants received a second dose. No serious adverse events occurred during the trial. The most common adverse events after vaccination were headache and musculoskeletal pain. The vaccine was restricted in replication: 24% and 17% had virus detectable by culture or rRT-PCR after the first and second dose, respectively. Antibody responses to the vaccine were also restricted: 24% of participants developed an antibody response as measured by either hemagglutination-inhibition assay (10%), or ELISA for H2 HA-specific serum IgG (24%) or IgA (16%) after either one or two doses. None of the participants had a neutralizing antibody response. Vaccine-specific IgG-secreting cells as measured by ELISPOT increased from a mean of 0.5 to 2.0/106 Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs); vaccine-specific IgA-secreting cells increased from 0.1 to 0.5/106PBMCs.
The live attenuated H2N2 1960 AA ca vaccine demonstrated a safety profile consistent with seasonal trivalent LAIV but was restricted in replication and minimally immunogenic in healthy seronegative adults.
H2N2; human; influenza; influenza vaccine; LAIV; NAI
Since it is difficult to predict which influenza virus subtype will cause an influenza pandemic, it is important to prepare influenza virus vaccines against different subtypes and evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of candidate vaccines in preclinical and clinical studies prior to a pandemic. In addition to infecting humans, H3 influenza viruses commonly infect pigs, horses, and avian species. We selected 11 swine, equine, and avian H3 influenza viruses and evaluated their kinetics of replication and ability to induce a broadly cross-reactive antibody response in mice and ferrets. The swine and equine viruses replicated well in the upper respiratory tract of mice. With the exception of one avian virus that replicated poorly in the lower respiratory tract, all of the viruses replicated in mouse lungs. In ferrets, all of the viruses replicated well in the upper respiratory tract, but the equine viruses replicated poorly in the lungs. Extrapulmonary spread was not observed in either mice or ferrets. No single virus elicited antibodies that cross-reacted with viruses from all three animal sources. Avian and equine H3 viruses elicited broadly cross-reactive antibodies against heterologous viruses isolated from the same or other species, but the swine viruses did not. We selected an equine and an avian H3 influenza virus for further development as vaccines.
The 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza virus carried a swine-origin hemagglutinin (HA) that was closely related to the HAs of pre-1947 H1N1 viruses but highly divergent from the HAs of recently circulating H1N1 strains. Consequently, prior exposure to pH1N1-like viruses was mostly limited to individuals over the age of about 60 years. We related age and associated differences in immune history to the B cell response to an inactivated monovalent pH1N1 vaccine given intramuscularly to subjects in three age cohorts: 18 to 32 years, 60 to 69 years, and ≥70 years. The day 0 pH1N1-specific hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) and microneutralization (MN) titers were generally higher in the older cohorts, consistent with greater prevaccination exposure to pH1N1-like viruses. Most subjects in each cohort responded well to vaccination, with early formation of circulating virus-specific antibody (Ab)-secreting cells and ≥4-fold increases in HAI and MN titers. However, the response was strongest in the 18- to 32-year cohort. Circulating levels of HA stalk-reactive Abs were increased after vaccination, especially in the 18- to 32-year cohort, raising the possibility of elevated levels of cross-reactive neutralizing Abs. In the young cohort, an increase in MN activity against the seasonal influenza virus A/Brisbane/59/07 after vaccination was generally associated with an increase in the anti-Brisbane/59/07 HAI titer, suggesting an effect mediated primarily by HA head-reactive rather than stalk-reactive Abs. Our findings support recent proposals that immunization with a relatively novel HA favors the induction of Abs against conserved epitopes. They also emphasize the need to clarify how the level of circulating stalk-reactive Abs relates to resistance to influenza.
We studied the replication of influenza A/California/07/09 (H1N1) wild type (CA09wt) virus in two non-human primate species and used one of these models to evaluate the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a live attenuated cold-adapted vaccine, which contains the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase from the H1N1 wild type virus and six internal protein gene segments of the A/Ann Arbor/6/60 cold-adapted (ca) master donor virus. We infected African green monkeys (AGMs) and rhesus macaques with 2 × 106 TCID50 of CA09wt and CA09ca influenza viruses. The virus replicated in the upper respiratory tract of all animals but the titers in upper respiratory tract tissues of rhesus macaques were significant higher than in AGMs (mean peak titers 104.5 TCID50/g and 102.0 TCID50/g on days 4 and 2 post-infection, respectively; p<0.01). Virus replication was observed in the lungs of all rhesus macaques (102.0–105.4TCID50/g) whereas only 2 out of 4 AGMs had virus recovered from the lungs (102.5– 103.5 TCID50/g). The CA09ca vaccine virus was attenuated and highly restricted in replication in both AGMs and rhesus macaques. We evaluated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of the CA09ca vaccine in rhesus macaques because CA09wt virus replicated more efficiently in this species. One or two doses of vaccine were administered intranasally and intratracheally to rhesus macaques. For the two-dose group, the vaccine was administered 4-weeks apart. Immunogenicity was assessed by measuring hemagglutination-inhibiting (HAI) antibodies in the serum and specific IgA antibodies to CA09wt virus in the nasal wash. One or two doses of the vaccine elicited a significant rise in HAI titers (range 40–320). Two doses of CA09ca elicited higher pH1N1-specific IgA titers than in the mock-immunized group (p<0.01). Vaccine efficacy was assessed by comparing titers of CA09wt challenge virus in the respiratory tract of mock immunized and CA09ca vaccinated monkeys. Significantly lower virus titers were observed in the lungs of vaccinated animals than mock-immunized animals (p ≤ 0.01). Our results demonstrate that AGMs and rhesus macaques support the replication of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus to different degrees and a cold-adapted pH1N1 vaccine elicits protective immunity against pH1N1 virus infection in rhesus macaques.
Pandemic H1N1; Non-human primate; Influenza vaccine
Two studies of H5N1 avian influenza viruses that had been genetically engineered to render them transmissible between ferrets have proved highly controversial. Divergent opinions exist about the importance of these studies of influenza transmission and about potential ‘dual use’ research implications. No consensus has developed yet about how to balance these concerns. After not recommending immediate full publication of earlier, less complete versions of the studies, the United States National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity subsequently recommended full publication of more complete manuscripts; however, controversy about this and similar research remains.
Influenza A viruses cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. There is a need for alternative or adjunct therapies, as resistance to currently used antiviral drugs is emerging rapidly. We tested ligand epitope antigen presentation system (LEAPS) technology as a new immune-based treatment for influenza virus infection in a mouse model. Influenza-J-LEAPS peptides were synthesized by conjugating the binding ligand derived from the β2-microglobulin chain of the human MHC class I molecule (J-LEAPS) with 15 to 30 amino acid–long peptides derived from influenza virus NP, M, or HA proteins. DCs were stimulated with influenza-J-LEAPS peptides (influenza-J-LEAPS) and injected intravenously into infected mice. Antigen-specific LEAPS-stimulated DCs were effective in reducing influenza virus replication in the lungs and enhancing survival of infected animals. Additionally, they augmented influenza-specific T cell responses in the lungs and reduced the severity of disease by limiting excessive cytokine responses, which are known to contribute to morbidity and mortality following influenza virus infection. Our data demonstrate that influenza-J-LEAPS–pulsed DCs reduce virus replication in the lungs, enhance survival, and modulate the protective immune responses that eliminate the virus while preventing excessive cytokines that could injure the host. This approach shows promise as an adjunct to antiviral treatment of influenza virus infections.
Although clinical trials with human subjects are essential for determination of safety, infectivity, and immunogenicity, it is desirable to know in advance the infectiousness of potential candidate live attenuated influenza vaccine strains for human use. We compared the replication kinetics of wild-type and live attenuated influenza viruses, including H1N1, H3N2, H9N2, and B strains, in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells, primary epithelial cells derived from human adenoids, and human bronchial epithelium (NHBE cells). Our data showed that despite the fact that all tissue culture models lack a functional adaptive immune system, differentiated cultures of human epithelium exhibited the greatest restriction for all H1N1, H3N2, and B vaccine viruses studied among three cell types tested and the best correlation with their levels of attenuation seen in clinical trials with humans. In contrast, the data obtained with MDCK cells were the least predictive of restricted viral replication of live attenuated vaccine viruses in humans. We were able to detect a statistically significant difference between the replication abilities of the U.S. (A/Ann Arbor/6/60) and Russian (A/Leningrad/134/17/57) cold-adapted vaccine donor strains in NHBE cultures. Since live attenuated pandemic influenza vaccines may potentially express a hemagglutinin and neuraminidase from a non-human influenza virus, we assessed which of the three cell cultures could be used to optimally evaluate the infectivity and cellular tropism of viruses derived from different hosts. Among the three cell types tested, NHBE cultures most adequately reflected the infectivity and cellular tropism of influenza virus strains with different receptor specificities. NHBE cultures could be considered for use as a screening step for evaluating the restricted replication of influenza vaccine candidates.
Compared to seasonal influenza viruses, the 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) virus caused greater morbidity and mortality in children and young adults. People over 60 years of age showed a higher prevalence of cross-reactive pH1N1 antibodies, suggesting that they were previously exposed to an influenza virus or vaccine that was antigenically related to the pH1N1 virus. To define the basis for this cross-reactivity, ferrets were infected with H1N1 viruses of variable antigenic distance that circulated during different decades from the 1930s (Alaska/35), 1940s (Fort Monmouth/47), 1950s (Fort Warren/50), and 1990s (New Caledonia/99) and challenged with 2009 pH1N1 virus 6 weeks later. Ferrets primed with the homologous CA/09 or New Jersey/76 (NJ/76) virus served as a positive control, while the negative control was an influenza B virus that should not cross-protect against influenza A virus infection. Significant protection against challenge virus replication in the respiratory tract was observed in ferrets primed with AK/35, FM/47, and NJ/76; FW/50-primed ferrets showed reduced protection, and NC/99-primed ferrets were not protected. The hemagglutinins (HAs) of AK/35, FM/47, and FW/50 differ in the presence of glycosylation sites. We found that the loss of protective efficacy observed with FW/50 was associated with the presence of a specific glycosylation site. Our results suggest that changes in the HA occurred between 1947 and 1950, such that prior infection could no longer protect against 2009 pH1N1 infection. This provides a mechanistic understanding of the nature of serological cross-protection observed in people over 60 years of age during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
In influenza virus infection, antibodies, memory CD8+ T cells, and CD4+ T cells have all been shown to mediate immune protection, but how they operate and interact with one another to mediate efficient immune responses against virus infection is not well understood. In this issue of the JCI, McKinstry et al. have identified unique functions of memory CD4+ T cells beyond providing “help” for B cell and CD8+ T cell responses during influenza virus infection.
Live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs) are effective in providing protection against influenza challenge in animal models and in preventing disease in humans. We previously showed that LAIVs elicit a range of immune effectors and that successful induction of pulmonary cellular and humoral immunity in mice requires pulmonary replication of the vaccine virus. An upper respiratory tract immunization (URTI) model was developed in mice to mimic the human situation, in which the vaccine virus does not replicate in the lower respiratory tract, allowing us to assess the protective efficacy of an H5N1 LAIV against highly pathogenic H5N1 virus challenge in the absence of significant pulmonary immunity. Our results show that, after one dose of an H5N1 LAIV, pulmonary influenza-specific lymphocytes are the main contributors to clearance of challenge virus from the lungs and that contributions of influenza-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antibodies in serum and splenic CD8+ T cells were negligible. Complete protection from H5N1 challenge was achieved after two doses of H5N1 LAIV and was associated with maturation of the antibody response. Although passive transfer of sera from mice that received two doses of vaccine prevented lethality in naive recipients following challenge, the mice showed significant weight loss, with high pulmonary titers of the H5N1 virus. These data highlight the importance of mucosal immunity in mediating optimal protection against H5N1 infection. Understanding the requirements for effective induction and establishment of these protective immune effectors in the respiratory tract paves the way for a more rational and effective vaccine approach in the future.
Reflecting on the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, we summarize lessons regarding influenza vaccines that can be applied in the future. The two major challenges to vaccination during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic were timing and availability of vaccine. Vaccines were, however, well-tolerated and immunogenic, with inactivated vaccines containing 15μg of HA generally inducing antibody titers ≥1:40 in adults within 2 weeks of the administration of a single dose. Moreover, the use of oil-in-water adjuvants in Europe permitted dose- reduction, with vaccines containing as little as 3.75 or 7.5μg HA being immunogenic. Case-control studies demonstrated that monovalent 2009 H1N1 vaccines were effective in preventing infection with the 2009 H1N1 virus, but preliminary data suggests that it is important for individuals to be re-immunized annually.
2009 H1N1; pandemic; influenza; vaccines
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of the H5 and H7 subtypes typically possess multiple basic amino acids around the cleavage site (MBS) of their hemagglutinin (HA) protein, a recognized virulence motif in poultry. To determine the importance of the H5 HA MBS as a virulence factor in mammals, recombinant wild-type HPAI A/Vietnam/1203/2004 (H5N1) viruses that possessed (H5N1) or lacked (ΔH5N1) the H5 HA MBS were generated and evaluated for their virulence in BALB/c mice, ferrets, and African green monkeys (AGMs) (Chlorocebus aethiops). The presence of the H5 HA MBS was associated with lethality, significantly higher virus titers in the respiratory tract, virus dissemination to extrapulmonary organs, lymphopenia, significantly elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and inflammation in the lungs of mice and ferrets. In AGMs, neither H5N1 nor ΔH5N1 virus was lethal and neither caused clinical symptoms. The H5 HA MBS was associated with mild enhancement of replication and delayed virus clearance. Thus, the contribution of H5 HA MBS to the virulence of the HPAI H5N1 virus varies among mammalian hosts and is most significant in mice and ferrets and less remarkable in nonhuman primates.