There is considerable interest in the development of broadly protective influenza vaccines because of the continuous emergence of antigenic drift variants of seasonal influenza viruses and the threat posed by the emergence of antigenically distinct pandemic influenza viruses. It has been recognized more than three decades ago that influenza A virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes recognize epitopes located in the relatively conserved proteins like the nucleoprotein and that they cross-react with various subtypes of influenza A viruses. This implies that these CD8+ T lymphocytes may contribute to protective heterosubtypic immunity induced by antecedent influenza A virus infections. In the present paper, we review the evidence for the role of virus-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes in protective immunity against influenza virus infections and discuss vaccination strategies that aim at the induction of cross-reactive virus-specific T-cell responses.
Each year, influenza viruses cause epidemics by evading pre-existing humoral immunity through mutations in the major glycoproteins: the haemagglutinin (HA) and the neuraminidase (NA). In 2004, the antigenic evolution of HA of human influenza A (H3N2) viruses was mapped (Smith et al., Science
305, 371–376, 2004) from its introduction in humans in 1968 until 2003. The current study focused on the genetic evolution of NA and compared it with HA using the dataset of Smith and colleagues, updated to the epidemic of the 2009/2010 season. Phylogenetic trees and genetic maps were constructed to visualize the genetic evolution of NA and HA. The results revealed multiple reassortment events over the years. Overall rates of evolutionary change were lower for NA than for HA1 at the nucleotide level. Selection pressures were estimated, revealing an abundance of negatively selected sites and sparse positively selected sites. The differences found between the evolution of NA and HA1 warrant further analysis of the evolution of NA at the phenotypic level, as has been done previously for HA.
To assess the attack and incidence rates for influenza virus infections, during October 2006–October 2007 we prospectively studied 1,190 adult short-term travelers from the Netherlands to tropical and subtropical countries. Participants donated blood samples before and after travel and kept a travel diary. The samples were serologically tested for the epidemic strains during the study period. The attack rate for all infections was 7% (86 travelers) and for influenza-like illness (ILI), 0.8%. The incidence rate for all infections was 8.9 per 100 person-months and for ILI, 0.9%. Risk factors for infection were birth in a non-Western country, age 55–64 years, and ILI. In 15 travelers with fever or ILI, influenza virus infection was serologically confirmed; 7 of these travelers were considered contagious or incubating the infection while traveling home. Given the large number of travelers to (sub)tropical countries, travel-related infection most likely contributes to importation and further influenza spread worldwide.
Influenza; travel; prospective study; attack rate; incidence; viruses; epidemiology
Detrimental inflammation of the lungs is a hallmark of severe influenza virus infections. Endothelial cells are the source of cytokine amplification, although mechanisms underlying this process are unknown. Here, using combined pharmacological and gene-deletion approaches, we show that plasminogen controls lung inflammation and pathogenesis of infections with influenza A/PR/8/34, highly pathogenic H5N1 and 2009 pandemic H1N1 viruses. Reduction of virus replication was not responsible for the observed effect. However, pharmacological depletion of fibrinogen, the main target of plasminogen reversed disease resistance of plasminogen-deficient mice or mice treated with an inhibitor of plasminogen-mediated fibrinolysis. Therefore, plasminogen contributes to the deleterious inflammation of the lungs and local fibrin clot formation may be implicated in host defense against influenza virus infections. Our studies suggest that the hemostatic system might be explored for novel treatments against influenza.
Influenza viruses, including H5N1 bird influenza viruses continue to form a major threat for public health. Available antiviral drugs for the treatment of influenza are effective to a limited extent and the emergence of resistant viruses may further undermine their use. The symptoms associated with influenza are caused by replication of the virus in the respiratory tract and the host immune response. Here, we report that a molecule of the fibrinolytic system, plasminogen, contributes to inflammation caused by influenza. Inhibiting the action of plasminogen protected mice from severe influenza infections, including those caused by H5N1 and H1N1 pandemic 2009 viruses and may be a promising novel strategy to treat influenza.
influenza B virus; seals; serology; viruses; influenza; Suggested citation for this article: Bodewes R; Morick D; de Mutsert G; Osinga N; Bestebroer T; van der Vliet S; et al. Recurring influenza B virus infections in seals [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Mar [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1903.120965
Influenza causes substantial morbidity and mortality, and highly pathogenic and drug-resistant strains are likely to emerge in the future. Protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1) is a thrombin-activated receptor that contributes to inflammatory responses at mucosal surfaces. The role of PAR1 in pathogenesis of virus infections is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that PAR1 contributed to the deleterious inflammatory response after influenza virus infection in mice. Activating PAR1 by administering the agonist TFLLR-NH2 decreased survival and increased lung inflammation after influenza infection. Importantly, both administration of a PAR1 antagonist and PAR1 deficiency protected mice from infection with influenza A viruses (IAVs). Treatment with the PAR1 agonist did not alter survival of mice deficient in plasminogen (PLG), which suggests that PLG permits and/or interacts with a PAR1 function in this model. PAR1 antagonists are in human trials for other indications. Our findings suggest that PAR1 antagonism might be explored as a treatment for influenza, including that caused by highly pathogenic H5N1 and oseltamivir-resistant H1N1 viruses.
The route by which highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus spreads systemically, including the central nervous system (CNS), is largely unknown in mammals. Especially, the olfactory route, which could be a route of entry into the CNS, has not been studied in detail. Although the multibasic cleavage site (MBCS) in the hemagglutinin (HA) of HPAI H5N1 viruses is a major determinant of systemic spread in poultry, the association between the MBCS and systemic spread in mammals is less clear. Here we determined the virus distribution of HPAI H5N1 virus in ferrets in time and space—including along the olfactory route—and the role of the MBCS in systemic replication. Intranasal inoculation with wild-type H5N1 virus revealed extensive replication in the olfactory mucosa, from which it spread to the olfactory bulb and the rest of the CNS, including the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Virus spread to the heart, liver, pancreas, and colon was also detected, indicating hematogenous spread. Ferrets inoculated intranasally with H5N1 virus lacking an MBCS demonstrated respiratory tract infection only. In conclusion, HPAI H5N1 virus can spread systemically via two different routes, olfactory and hematogenous, in ferrets. This systemic spread was dependent on the presence of the MBCS in HA.
The influenza A virus is one of the leading causes of respiratory tract infections in humans. Upon infection with an influenza A virus, both innate and adaptive immune responses are induced. Here we discuss various strategies used by influenza A viruses to evade innate immune responses and recognition by components of the humoral and cellular immune response, which consequently may result in reduced clearing of the virus and virus-infected cells. Finally, we discuss how the current knowledge about immune evasion can be used to improve influenza A vaccination strategies.
influenza; evasion; innate immunity; adaptive immunity
Avian influenza virus (AIV) surveillance studies in wild birds are usually conducted in rural areas and nature reserves. Less is known of avian influenza virus prevalence in wild birds located in densely populated urban areas, while these birds are more likely to be in close contact with humans. Influenza virus prevalence was investigated in 6059 wild birds sampled in cities in the Netherlands between 2006 and 2009, and compared with parallel AIV surveillance data from low urbanized areas in the Netherlands. Viral prevalence varied with the level of urbanization, with highest prevalence in low urbanized areas. Within cities virus was detected in 0.5% of birds, while seroprevalence exceeded 50%. Ring recoveries of urban wild birds sampled for virus detection demonstrated that most birds were sighted within the same city, while few were sighted in other cities or migrated up to 2659 km away from the sample location in the Netherlands. Here we show that urban birds were infected with AIVs and that urban birds were not separated completely from populations of long-distance migrants. The latter suggests that wild birds in cities may play a role in the introduction of AIVs into cities. Thus, urban bird populations should not be excluded as a human-animal interface for influenza viruses.
A multibasic cleavage site (MBCS) in the haemagglutinin (HA) protein of influenza A virus is a key determinant of pathogenicity in chickens, and distinguishes highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses from low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAI). An MBCS has only been detected in viruses of the H5 and H7 subtypes. Here we investigated the phenotype of a human H3N2 virus with an MBCS in HA. Insertion of an MBCS in the H3N2 virus resulted in cleavage of HA and efficient replication in Madin–Darby canine kidney cells in the absence of exogenous trypsin in vitro, similar to HPAI H5N1 virus. However, studies in ferrets demonstrated that insertion of the MBCS into HA did not result in increased virus shedding, cellular host range, systemic replication or pathogenicity, as compared with wild-type virus. This study indicates that acquisition of an MBCS alone is insufficient to increase pathogenicity of a prototypical seasonal human H3N2 virus.
Infection with seasonal influenza A viruses induces immunity to potentially pandemic influenza A viruses of other subtypes (heterosubtypic immunity). We recently demonstrated that vaccination against seasonal influenza prevented the induction of heterosubtypic immunity against influenza A/H5N1 virus induced by infection with seasonal influenza in animal models, which correlated with the absence of virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses. Annual vaccination of all healthy children against influenza has been recommended, but the impact of vaccination on the development of the virus-specific CD8+ T cell immunity in children is currently unknown. Here we compared the virus-specific CD8+ T cell immunity in children vaccinated annually with that in unvaccinated children. In the present study, we compared influenza A virus-specific cellular and humoral responses of unvaccinated healthy control children with those of children with cystic fibrosis (CF) who were vaccinated annually. Similar virus-specific CD4+ T cell and antibody responses were observed, while an age-dependent increase of the virus-specific CD8+ T cell response that was absent in vaccinated CF children was observed in unvaccinated healthy control children. Our results indicate that annual influenza vaccination is effective against seasonal influenza but hampers the development of virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses. The consequences of these findings are discussed in the light of the development of protective immunity to seasonal and future pandemic influenza viruses.
Serum antibodies induced by seasonal influenza or seasonal influenza vaccination exhibit limited or no cross-reactivity against the 2009 pandemic swine-origin influenza virus of the H1N1 subtype (pH1N1). Ferrets immunized once or twice with MF59-adjuvanted seasonal influenza vaccine exhibited significantly reduced lung virus titers but no substantial clinical protection against pH1N1-associated disease. However, priming with MF59-adjuvanted seasonal influenza vaccine significantly increased the efficacy of a pandemic MF59-adjuvanted influenza vaccine against pH1N1 challenge. Elucidating the mechanism involved in this priming principle will contribute to our understanding of vaccine- and infection-induced correlates of protection. Furthermore, a practical consequence of these findings is that during an emerging pandemic, the implementation of a priming strategy with an available adjuvanted seasonal vaccine to precede the eventual pandemic vaccination campaign may be useful and life-saving.
The emergence and subsequent swift and global spread of the swine-origin influenza virus A(H1N1) in 2009 once again emphasizes the strong need for effective vaccines that can be developed rapidly and applied safely. With this aim, we produced soluble, multimeric forms of the 2009 A(H1N1) HA (sHA3) and NA (sNA4) surface glycoproteins using a virus-free mammalian expression system and evaluated their efficacy as vaccines in ferrets. Immunization twice with 3.75-μg doses of these antigens elicited strong antibody responses, which were adjuvant dependent. Interestingly, coadministration of both antigens strongly enhanced the HA-specific but not the NA-specific responses. Distinct patterns of protection were observed upon challenge inoculation with the homologous H1N1 virus. Whereas vaccination with sHA3 dramatically reduced virus replication (e.g., by lowering pulmonary titers by about 5 log10 units), immunization with sNA4 markedly decreased the clinical effects of infection, such as body weight loss and lung pathology. Clearly, optimal protection was achieved by the combination of the two antigens. Our observations demonstrate the great vaccine potential of multimeric HA and NA ectodomains, as these can be easily, rapidly, flexibly, and safely produced in high quantities. In particular, our study underscores the underrated importance of NA in influenza vaccination, which we found to profoundly and specifically contribute to protection by HA. Its inclusion in a vaccine is likely to reduce the HA dose required and to broaden the protective immunity.
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus phenotype is restricted to influenza A viruses of the H5 and H7 hemagglutinin (HA) subtypes. To obtain more information on the apparent subtype-specific nature of the HPAI virus phenotype, a low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H6N1 virus was generated, containing an HPAI H5 RRRKKR↓G multibasic cleavage site (MBCS) motif in HA (the downward arrow indicates the site of cleavage). This insertion converted the LPAI virus phenotype into an HPAI virus phenotype in vitro and in vivo. The H6N1 virus with an MBCS displayed in vitro characteristics similar to those of HPAI H5 viruses, such as cleavage of HA0 (the HA protein of influenza A virus initially synthesized as a single polypeptide precursor) and virus replication in the absence of exogenous trypsin. Studies of chickens confirmed the HPAI phenotype of the H6N1 virus with an MBCS, with an intravenous pathogenicity index of 1.4 and systemic virus replication upon intranasal inoculation, the hallmarks of HPAI viruses. This study provides evidence that the subtype-specific nature of the emergence of HPAI viruses is not at the molecular, structural, or functional level, since the introduction of an MBCS resulted in a fully functional virus with an HPAI virus genotype and phenotype.
Since emergence of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus in April 2009, three influenza A viruses—seasonal (H3N2), seasonal (H1N1), and pandemic (H1N1) 2009—have circulated in humans. Genetic reassortment between these viruses could result in enhanced pathogenicity. We compared 4 reassortant viruses with favorable in vitro replication properties with the wild-type pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus with respect to replication kinetics in vitro and pathogenicity and transmission in ferrets. Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 viruses containing basic polymerase 2 alone or in combination with acidic polymerase of seasonal (H1N1) virus were attenuated in ferrets. In contrast, pandemic (H1N1) 2009 with neuraminidase of seasonal (H3N2) virus resulted in increased virus replication and more severe pulmonary lesions. The data show that pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus has the potential to reassort with seasonal influenza viruses, which may result in increased pathogenicity while it maintains the capacity of transmission through aerosols or respiratory droplets.
Viruses; reassortment; pandemic (H1N1) 2009; influenza; H1N1; H3N2; pathogenicity; transmission; ferrets; research
The immunogenicity of 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) (pH1N1) vaccines and the effect of previous influenza vaccination is a matter of current interest and debate. We measured the immune response to pH1N1 vaccine in HIV-infected patients and in healthy controls. In addition we tested whether recent vaccination with seasonal trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV) induced cross-reactive antibodies to pH1N1. (clinicaltrials.gov Identifier:NCT01066169)
Methods and Findings
In this single-center prospective cohort study MF59-adjuvanted pH1N1 vaccine (Focetria®, Novartis) was administered twice to 58 adult HIV-infected patients and 44 healthy controls in November 2009 (day 0 and day 21). Antibody responses were measured at baseline, day 21 and day 56 with hemagglutination-inhibition (HI) assay. The seroprotection rate (defined as HI titers ≥1∶40) for HIV-infected patients was 88% after the first and 91% after the second vaccination. These rates were comparable to those in healthy controls. Post-vaccination GMT, a sensitive marker of the immune competence of a group, was lower in HIV-infected patients. We found a high seroprotection rate at baseline (31%). Seroprotective titers at baseline were much more common in those who had received 2009–2010 seasonal TIV three weeks prior to the first dose of pH1N1 vaccine. Using stored serum samples of 51 HIV-infected participants we measured the pH1N1 specific response to 2009–2010 seasonal TIV. The seroprotection rate to pH1N1 increased from 22% to 49% after vaccination with 2009–2010 seasonal TIV. Seasonal TIV induced higher levels of antibodies to pH1N1 in older than in younger subjects.
In HIV-infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy, with a median CD4+ T-lymphocyte count above 500 cells/mm3, one dose of MF59-adjuvanted pH1N1 vaccine induced a high seroprotection rate comparable to that in healthy controls. A second dose had a modest additional effect. Furthermore, seasonal TIV induced cross-reactive antibodies to pH1N1 and this effect was more pronounced in older subjects.
The continuous circulation of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus has been a cause of great concern. The possibility of this virus acquiring specificity for the human influenza A virus receptor, α2,6-linked sialic acids (SA), and being able to transmit efficiently among humans is a constant threat to human health. Different studies have described amino acid substitutions in hemagglutinin (HA) of clinical HPAI H5N1 isolates or that were introduced experimentally that resulted in an increased, but not exclusive, binding of these virus strains to α2,6-linked SA. We introduced all previously described amino acid substitutions and combinations thereof into a single genetic background, influenza virus A/Indonesia/5/05 HA, and tested the receptor specificity of these 27 mutant viruses. The attachment pattern to ferret and human tissues of the upper and lower respiratory tract of viruses with α2,6-linked SA receptor preference was then determined and compared to the attachment pattern of a human influenza A virus (H3N2). At least three mutant viruses showed an attachment pattern to the human respiratory tract similar to that of the human H3N2 virus. Next, the replication efficiencies of these mutant viruses and the effects of three different neuraminidases on virus replication were determined. These data show that influenza virus A/Indonesia/5/05 potentially requires only a single amino acid substitution to acquire human receptor specificity, while at the same time remaining replication competent, thus suggesting that the pandemic threat posed by HPAI H5N1 is far from diminished.
Antiviral susceptibility surveillance in the Netherlands was intensified after the first reports about the emergence of influenza A(H1N1) oseltamivir resistant viruses in Norway in January, 2008.
Within the existing influenza surveillance an additional questionnaire study was performed to retrospectively assess possible risk factors and establish clinical outcome of all patients with influenza virus A(H1N1) positive specimens. To discriminate resistant and sensitive viruses, fifty percent inhibitory concentrations for the neuramidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir were determined in a neuraminidase inhibition assay. Mutations previously associated with resistance to neuramidase inhibitors and M2 blockers (amantadine and rimantadine) were searched for by nucleotide sequencing of neuraminidase and M2 genes respectively.
Among 171 patients infected with A(H1N1) viruses an overall prevalence of oseltamivir resistance of 27% (95% CI: 20-34%) was found. None of influenza A(H1N1) oseltamivir resistant viruses tested was resistant against amantadine or zanamivir. Patient characteristics, underlying conditions, influenza vaccination, symptoms, complications, and exposure to oseltamivir and other antivirals did not differ significantly between patients infected with resistant and sensitive A(H1N1) viruses.
In 2007/2008 a large proportion of influenza A(H1N1) viruses resistant to oseltamivir was detected. There were no clinical differences between patients infected with resistant and sensitive A(H1N1) viruses. Continuous monitoring of the antiviral drug sensitivity profile of influenza viruses is justified, preferably using the existing sentinel surveillance, however, complemented with data from the more severe end of the clinical spectrum. In order to act timely on emergencies of public health importance we suggest setting up a surveillance system that can guarantee rapid access to the latter.
Drug resistance; Viral; Epidemiology; Influenza A virus; H1N1 subtype; Oseltamivir; Signs and symptoms; Surveillance; Netherlands; Virology.
In the first 6 months of the H1N1 swine-origin influenza virus (S-OIV) pandemic, the vast majority of infections were relatively mild. It has been postulated that mutations in the viral genome could result in more virulent viruses, leading to a more severe pandemic. Mutations E627K and D701N in the PB2 protein have previously been identified as determinants of avian and pandemic influenza virus virulence in mammals. These mutations were absent in S-OIVs detected early in the 2009 pandemic. Here, using reverse genetics, mutations E627K, D701N, and E677G were introduced into the prototype S-OIV A/Netherlands/602/2009, and their effects on virus replication, virulence, and transmission were investigated. Mutations E627K and D701N caused increased reporter gene expression driven by the S-OIV polymerase complex. None of the three mutations affected virus replication in vitro. The mutations had no major impact on virus replication in the respiratory tracts of mice and ferrets or on pathogenesis. All three mutant viruses were transmitted via aerosols or respiratory droplets in ferrets. Thus, the impact of key known virulence markers in PB2 in the context of current S-OIVs was surprisingly small. This study does not exclude the possibility of emergence of S-OIVs with other virulence-associated mutations in the future. We conclude that surveillance studies aimed at detecting S-OIVs with increased virulence or transmission should not rely solely on virulence markers identified in the past but should include detailed characterization of virus phenotypes, guided by genetic signatures of viruses detected in severe cases of disease in humans.
Two viruses isolated during the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7N7 virus outbreak in The Netherlands in 2003, one isolated from a person with conjunctivitis and one from a person who died as the result of infection, were used for an in vitro study of influenza A virus pathogenicity factors. The two HPAI H7N7 viruses differed in 15 amino acid positions in five gene segments. Assays were designed to investigate the role of each of these substitutions in attachment and entry, transcription and genome replication, and virus production and release as determined by hemagglutinin (HA), polymerase proteins, nonstructural protein 1 (NS1), and neuraminidase (NA). These in vitro studies confirmed the roles of the E627K substitution in basic polymerase 2 (PB2) and the A143T substitution in HA in pathogenicity observed in a mouse model previously. However, the in vitro studies identified a contribution of acidic polymerase (PA) and NA to the efficient replication in human cells of the fatal case virus, despite the fact that these are rarely marked as determinants of pathogenicity in in vivo studies. With the exception of PB2 E627K, all substitutions contributing to enhanced replication of the fatal case virus in vitro were present in poultry viruses prior to transmission to the human fatal case, indicating that viruses with enhanced replication efficiency in the mammalian host can be generated in poultry. Thus, detailed in vitro analyses of mutations facilitating replication of avian influenza viruses in mammalian cells are important to assess the zoonotic risk posed by these viruses and, in addition, highlight the value of in vitro studies to complement animal models.
Tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs) are organized aggregates of B and T cells formed in postembryonic life in response to chronic immune responses to infectious agents or self-antigens. Although CD11c+ dendritic cells (DCs) are consistently found in regions of TLO, their contribution to TLO organization has not been studied in detail. We found that CD11chi DCs are essential for the maintenance of inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (iBALT), a form of TLO induced in the lungs after influenza virus infection. Elimination of DCs after the virus had been cleared from the lung resulted in iBALT disintegration and reduction in germinal center (GC) reactions, which led to significantly reduced numbers of class-switched plasma cells in the lung and bone marrow and reduction in protective antiviral serum immunoglobulins. Mechanistically, DCs isolated from the lungs of mice with iBALT no longer presented viral antigens to T cells but were a source of lymphotoxin (LT) β and homeostatic chemokines (CXCL-12 and -13 and CCL-19 and -21) known to contribute to TLO organization. Like depletion of DCs, blockade of LTβ receptor signaling after virus clearance led to disintegration of iBALT and GC reactions. Together, our data reveal a previously unappreciated function of lung DCs in iBALT homeostasis and humoral immunity to influenza virus.
The current pandemic caused by the new influenza A(H1N1) virus of swine origin and the current pandemic threat caused by the highly pathogenic avian influenza A viruses of the H5N1 subtype have renewed the interest in the development of vaccines that can induce broad protective immunity. Preferably, vaccines not only provide protection against the homologous strains, but also against heterologous strains, even of another subtype. Here we describe viral targets and the arms of the immune response involved in protection against influenza virus infections such as antibodies directed against the hemagglutinin, neuraminidase and the M2 protein and cellular immune responses directed against the internal viral proteins.
influenza; protective immunity; pandemic
Natural killer cells are innate effector cells known for their potential to produce interferon-γ and kill tumour and virus-infected cells. Recently, B220+CD11cintNK1.1+ NK cells were found to also have antigen-presenting capacity like dendritic cells (DC), hence their name interferon-producing killer DC (IKDC). Shortly after discovery, it has already been questioned if IKDC really represent a separate subset of NK cells or merely represent a state of activation. Despite similarities with DCs, in vivo evidence that they behave as bona fide APCs is lacking. Here, using a model of influenza infection, we found recruitment of both conventional B220− NK cells and IKDCs to the lung. To study antigen-presenting capacity of NK cell subsets and compare it to cDCs, all cell subsets were sorted from lungs of infected mice and co-cultured ex vivo with antigen specific T cells. Both IKDCs and conventional NK cells as well as cDCs presented virus-encoded antigen to CD8 T cells, whereas only cDCs presented to CD4 T cells. The absence of CD4 responses was predominantly due to a deficiency in MHCII processing, as preprocessed peptide antigen was presented equally well by cDCs and IKDCs. In vivo, the depletion of NK1.1-positive NK cells and IKDCs reduced the expansion of viral nucleoprotein-specific CD8 T cells in the lung and spleen, but did finally not affect viral clearance from the lung. In conclusion, we found evidence for APC function of lung NK cells during influenza infection, but this is a feature not exclusive to the IKDC subset.
Influenza A virus surveillance studies of wild bird populations are essential to improving our understanding of the role of wild birds in the ecology of low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses and their potential contribution to the spread of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses. Whereas the primary results of such surveillance programs have been communicated extensively, practical considerations and technical implementation options generally receive little attention. In the present study, the data obtained from 39,490 samples were used to compare the impacts of variables such as the sampling procedure, storage and transport conditions, and the choice of molecular and classical diagnostic tests on the outcome of the results. Molecular diagnostic tests allowed estimation of the virus load in samples, which has implications for the ability to isolate virus. Virus isolation in embryonated eggs was more sensitive than virus isolation in cell cultures. Storage and transport conditions had less of an impact on diagnostics by the use of molecular tests than by the use of classical approaches. These findings indicate that molecular diagnostic tests are more sensitive and more reliable than classical tests. In addition, molecular diagnostic tests facilitated analyses in real time and allowed the discrimination of H5 influenza viruses with low and high pathogenicities without the need for virus isolation. Critical assessment of the methods used in large surveillance studies like this will facilitate comparison of the results between studies. Moreover, the lessons learned from current large-scale influenza A virus surveillance activities could be valuable for other pathogen surveillance programs in the future.
To investigate whether protective immune responses can be induced in the absence of normal interleukin-12/23/gamma interferon (IL-12/23/IFN-γ) axis signaling, we vaccinated with the seasonal influenza virus subunit vaccine two patients with complete IL-12/23 receptor β1 (IL-12/23Rβ1) deficiencies, two patients with partial IFN-γ receptor I (pIFN-γRI) deficiencies, and five healthy controls. Blood samples were analyzed before, 7 days after, and 28 days after vaccination. In most cases, antibody titers reached protective levels. Moreover, although T-cell responses in patients were lower than those observed in controls, significant influenza virus-specific T-cell proliferation, IFN-γ production, and numbers of IFN-γ-producing cells were found in all patients 7 days after the vaccination. Interestingly, influenza virus-specific IFN-γ responses were IL-12/23 independent, in striking contrast to mycobacterium-induced IFN-γ production. In conclusion, influenza virus vaccination induces IL-12/23-independent IFN-γ production by T cells and can result in sufficient humoral protection in both IL-12/23Rβ1- and pIFN-γRI-deficient individuals.