A combination of viral, bacterial, and host factors contributes to the severity and overall mortality associated with influenza virus-bacterium superinfections. To date, the virulence associated with the recently identified influenza virus protein PB1-F2 has been largely defined using models of primary influenza virus infection, with only limited assessment in models of Streptococcus pneumoniae superinfection. Specifically, these studies have incorporated isogenic viruses that differ in the PB1-F2 expressed, but there is still knowledge to be gained from evaluation of natural variants derived from a nonhuman host species (swine). Using this rationale, we developed the hypothesis that naturally occurring viruses expressing variants of genes, like the PB1-F2 gene, can be associated with the severity of secondary bacterial infections. To test this hypothesis, we selected viruses expressing variants in PB1-F2 and evaluated outcomes from superinfection with three distinct Gram-positive respiratory pathogens: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Our results demonstrate that the amino acid residues 62L, 66S, 75R, 79R, and 82L, previously proposed as molecular signatures of PB1-F2 virulence for influenza viruses in the setting of bacterial superinfection, are broadly associated with enhanced pathogenicity in swine in a bacterium-specific manner. Furthermore, truncated PB1-F2 proteins can preferentially increase mortality when associated with Streptococcus pyogenes superinfection. These findings support efforts to increase influenza virus surveillance to consider viral genotypes that could be used to predict increased severity of superinfections with specific Gram-positive respiratory pathogens.
The hemagglutinin–neuraminidase (HN) glycoprotein is utilized by human parainfluenza viruses for binding to the host cell. By the use of glycan array assays, we demonstrate that, in addition to the first catalytic-binding site, the HN of human parainfluenza virus type 1 has a second site for binding covered by N-linked glycan. Our data suggest that attachment of the first site to sialic acid (SA)-linked receptors triggers exposure of the second site. We found that both sites bind to α2-3-linked SAs with a preference for a sialyl-Lewisx motif. Binding to α2-3-linked SAs with a sulfated sialyl-Lewis motif as well as to α2-8-linked SAs was unique for the second binding site. Neither site recognizes α2-6-linked oligosaccharides.
binding; glycan array; hemagglutinin–neuraminidase; parainfluenza; receptor
(See the editorial commentary by Beck, on pages 172–3, and the article by Kim et al, on pages 244–51.)
For the first time, obesity appeared as a risk factor for developing severe 2009 pandemic influenza infection. Given the increase in obesity, there is a need to understand the mechanisms underlying poor outcomes in this population. In these studies, we examined the severity of pandemic influenza virus in obese mice and evaluated antiviral effectiveness. We found that genetically and diet-induced obese mice challenged with either 2009 influenza A virus subtype H1N1 or 1968 subtype H3N2 strains were more likely to have increased mortality and lung pathology associated with impaired wound repair and subsequent pulmonary edema. Antiviral treatment with oseltamivir enhanced survival of obese mice. Overall, these studies demonstrate that impaired wound lung repair in the lungs of obese animals may result in severe influenza virus infection. Alternative approaches to prevention and control of influenza may be needed in the setting of obesity.
Pandemic influenza is said to 'shift mortality' to younger age groups; but also to spare a subpopulation of the elderly population. Does one of these effects dominate? Might this have important ramifications?
We estimated age-specific excess mortality rates for all-years for which data were available in the 20th century for Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the UK, and the USA for people older than 44 years of age. We modeled variation with age, and standardized estimates to allow direct comparison across age groups and countries. Attack rate data for four pandemics were assembled.
For nearly all seasons, an exponential model characterized mortality data extremely well. For seasons of emergence and a variable number of seasons following, however, a subpopulation above a threshold age invariably enjoyed reduced mortality. 'Immune escape', a stepwise increase in mortality among the oldest elderly, was observed a number of seasons after both the A(H2N2) and A(H3N2) pandemics. The number of seasons from emergence to escape varied by country. For the latter pandemic, mortality rates in four countries increased for younger age groups but only in the season following that of emergence. Adaptation to both emergent viruses was apparent as a progressive decrease in mortality rates, which, with two exceptions, was seen only in younger age groups. Pandemic attack rate variation with age was estimated to be similar across four pandemics with very different mortality impact.
In all influenza pandemics of the 20th century, emergent viruses resembled those that had circulated previously within the lifespan of then-living people. Such individuals were relatively immune to the emergent strain, but this immunity waned with mutation of the emergent virus. An immune subpopulation complicates and may invalidate vaccine trials. Pandemic influenza does not 'shift' mortality to younger age groups; rather, the mortality level is reset by the virulence of the emerging virus and is moderated by immunity of past experience. In this study, we found that after immune escape, older age groups showed no further mortality reduction, despite their being the principal target of conventional influenza vaccines. Vaccines incorporating variants of pandemic viruses seem to provide little benefit to those previously immune. If attack rates truly are similar across pandemics, it must be the case that immunity to the pandemic virus does not prevent infection, but only mitigates the consequences.
Pandemic influenza; mortality due to influenza; recycling; pandemic attack rates; vaccination; protective immunity
Host inflammatory responses contribute to the significant immunopathology that occurs during treatment of secondary bacterial pneumonia following influenza. We undertook the present study to determine the mechanisms underlying disparate outcomes in a mouse model with β-lactam and macrolide antibiotics. Lysis of superinfecting bacteria by ampicillin caused an extensive influx of neutrophils into the lungs resulting in a consolidative pneumonia, necrotic lung damage, and significant mortality. This was mediated through Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 and was independent of TLR4 and the Streptococcus pneumoniae cytotoxin pneumolysin. Treatment with azithromycin prevented neutrophil accumulation and rescued mice from subsequent mortality. This effect was independent of the antibacterial activity of this macrolide since dual therapy with ampicillin and azithromycin against an azithromycin-resistant strain also was able to cure secondary pneumonia. These data suggest that strategies for eliminating bacteria without lysis coupled with immunomodulation of inflammation should be pursued clinically.
The influenza A virus protein PB1-F2 has been linked to the pathogenesis of both primary viral and secondary bacterial infections. H3N2 viruses have historically expressed full-length PB1-F2 proteins with either proinflammatory (e.g., from influenza A/Hong Kong/1/1968 virus) or noninflammatory (e.g., from influenza A/Wuhan/359/1995 virus) properties. Using synthetic peptides derived from the active C-terminal portion of the PB1-F2 protein from those two viruses, we mapped the proinflammatory domain to amino acid residues L62, R75, R79, and L82 and then determined the role of that domain in H3N2 influenza virus pathogenicity. PB1-F2-derived peptides containing that proinflammatory motif caused significant morbidity, mortality, and pulmonary inflammation in mice, manifesting as increased acute lung injury and the presence of proinflammatory cytokines and inflammatory cells in the lungs compared to peptides lacking this motif, and better supported bacterial infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae. Infections of mice with an otherwise isogenic virus engineered to contain this proinflammatory sequence in PB1-F2 demonstrated increased morbidity resulting from primary viral infections and enhanced development of secondary bacterial pneumonia. The presence of the PB1-F2 noninflammatory (P62, H75, Q79, and S82) sequence in the wild-type virus mediated an antibacterial effect. These data suggest that loss of the inflammatory PB1-F2 phenotype that supports bacterial superinfection during adaptation of H3N2 viruses to humans, coupled with acquisition of antibacterial activity, contributes to the relatively diminished frequency of severe infections seen with seasonal H3N2 influenza viruses in recent decades compared to their first 2 decades of circulation.
Pneumococcal pneumonia is a leading cause of death and a major source of human morbidity. The initial immune response plays a central role in determining the course and outcome of pneumococcal disease. We combine bacterial titer measurements from mice infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae with mathematical modeling to investigate the coordination of immune responses and the effects of initial inoculum on outcome. To evaluate the contributions of individual components, we systematically build a mathematical model from three subsystems that describe the succession of defensive cells in the lung: resident alveolar macrophages, neutrophils and monocyte-derived macrophages. The alveolar macrophage response, which can be modeled by a single differential equation, can by itself rapidly clear small initial numbers of pneumococci. Extending the model to include the neutrophil response required additional equations for recruitment cytokines and host cell status and damage. With these dynamics, two outcomes can be predicted: bacterial clearance or sustained bacterial growth. Finally, a model including monocyte-derived macrophage recruitment by neutrophils suggests that sustained bacterial growth is possible even in their presence. Our model quantifies the contributions of cytotoxicity and immune-mediated damage in pneumococcal pathogenesis.
Bacterial Dynamics Model; Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection; Acute Inflammation; Dose-Dependence; Immune Response Modeling
Pandemic A (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus (pH1N1) infection in pregnant women can be severe. The mechanisms that affect infection outcome in this population are not well understood. To address this, pregnant and nonpregnant BALB/c mice were inoculated with the wild-type pH1N1 strain A/California/04/09. To determine whether innate immune responses are associated with severe infection, we measured the innate cells trafficking into the lungs of pregnant versus nonpregnant animals. Increased infiltration of pulmonary neutrophils and macrophages strongly correlated with an elevated mortality in pregnant mice. In agreement with this, the product of nitric oxide (nitrite) and several cytokines associated with recruitment and/or function of these cells were increased in the lungs of pregnant animals. Surprisingly, increased mortality in pregnant mice was not associated with higher virus load because equivalent virus titers and immunohistochemical staining were observed in the nasal cavities or lungs of all mice. To determine whether exacerbated inflammatory responses and elevated cellularity resulted in lung injury, epithelial regeneration was measured. The lungs of pregnant mice exhibited reduced epithelial regeneration, suggesting impaired lung repair. Despite these immunologic alterations, pregnant animals demonstrated equivalent percentages of pulmonary influenza virus-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes, although they displayed elevated levels of T-regulator lymphocytes (Tregs) in the lung. Also, pregnant mice mounted equal antibody titers in response to virus or immunization with a monovalent inactivated pH1N1 A/California/07/09 vaccine. Therefore, immunopathology likely caused by elevated cellular recruitment is an implicated mechanism of severe pH1N1 infection in pregnant mice.
Rationale: Pandemic influenza viruses historically have had few potential sites for N-linked glycosylation on the globular head of the hemagglutinin (HA) on emergence from the avian reservoir. Gain of glycans within antigenic sites of the HA during adaptation to the mammalian lung facilitates immune evasion.
Objectives: In this study, we sought to determine in mice how exposure to highly glycosylated viruses affects immunity to poorly glycosylated variants to model the emergence of a novel pandemic strain of a circulating subtype.
Methods: We engineered the 1968 H3N2 pandemic strain to express an additional two or four potential sites for glycosylation on the globular head of the HA. Mice were infected sequentially with highly glycosylated variants followed by poorly glycosylated variants and monitored for immune responses and disease.
Measurements and Main Results: The mutant with four additional glycosylation sites (+4 virus) elicited significantly lower antibody responses than the wild-type or +2 virus and was unable to elicit neutralizing antibodies. Mice infected with the +4 virus and then challenged with wild-type virus were not protected from infection and experienced significant T-cell–mediated immunopathology. Infection with a recent seasonal H1N1 virus followed by infection with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 elicited similar responses.
Conclusions: These data suggest that sequential infection with viral strains with different surface glycosylation can prime the host for immunopathology if a neutralizing antibody response matching the T-cell response is not present. This mechanism may have contributed to severe disease in young adults infected with the 2009 pandemic virus.
influenza virus; glycosylation; pandemic; immunopathology; pneumonia
Superinfections from Staphylococcus aureus following influenza are an increasing concern. We assessed several laboratory and clinical strains in a mouse coinfection model with influenza virus. A methicillin-resistant USA300 clone and several recent clinical strains from patients with necrotizing pneumonia caused high mortality following influenza virus infection in mice. Both viral and bacterial lung titers were enhanced during coinfections compared with single infections. However, differences in titers did not correspond with differences in disease outcomes in a comparison of superinfections from a highly pathogenic strain with those from a poorly pathogenic strain. These strains did differ, however, in expression of Panton-Valentine leukocidin and in the degree of inflammatory lung damage each engendered. The viral cytotoxin PB1-F2 contributed to the negative outcomes. These data suggest that additional study of specific bacterial virulence factors involved in the pathogenesis of inflammation and lung damage during coinfections is needed.
The role of respiratory viruses in transmission of Streptococcus pneumoniae is poorly understood. Key questions such as which serotypes are most fit for transmission and disease, and whether influenza virus alters these parameters in a serotype specific manner have not been adequately studied. In a novel model of ferret transmission, we demonstrated that prior infection with influenza virus of donors enhanced pneumococcal transmission and disease. Nasal wash bacterial titers, the incidence of mucosal and invasive disease, and the percentage of contacts infected were all increased. Viral infection of contact ferrets increased their susceptibility to acquisition both in terms of percentage infected and distance over which they could acquire infection. These influenza mediated effects on colonization, transmission and disease were pneumococcal strain dependent. Overall, these data argue that human studies of the relationship between respiratory viral infections, acquisition of pneumococci, and development of disease need further study to be better understood.
Alternate therapies are needed for treatment of secondary bacterial pneumonia following influenza. The immunomodulatory peptide P4 has shown promise in mouse models of primary pneumococcal infection. Mice infected with influenza virus and then challenged with Streptococcus pneumoniae were treated with a combination of P4 peptide and intravenous immune globulin. Survival was improved from 20% to 80% in treated mice relative to controls. Clinical cure correlated with increased clearance of bacteria and decreased lung consolidation. Greater trafficking of professional phagocytic cells to the site of pneumococcal infection coupled with enhanced opsonophagocytosis as manifest by decreased surface display of Fcγ receptors (FcγR) on neutrophils and macrophages were associated with P4 peptide treatment. This suggests that the mechanism of action for improved clearance of bacteria engendered by P4 is through improved uptake by phagocytes mediated by IgG Fc-Fcγ receptor interactions following antibody-mediated opsonophagocytosis of bacteria. Antibody-based therapies, when coupled with immune modulators, such as P4 peptide, may be an effective tool together with antibiotics in our armamentarium against severe pneumonia.
Airway inflammation plays a major role in the pathogenesis of influenza viruses and can lead to a fatal outcome. One of the challenging objectives in the field of influenza research is the identification of the molecular bases associated to the immunopathological disorders developed during infection. While its precise function in the virus cycle is still unclear, the viral protein PB1-F2 is proposed to exert a deleterious activity within the infected host. Using an engineered recombinant virus unable to express PB1-F2 and its wild-type homolog, we analyzed and compared the pathogenicity and host response developed by the two viruses in a mouse model. We confirmed that the deletion of PB1-F2 renders the virus less virulent. The global transcriptomic analyses of the infected lungs revealed a potent impact of PB1-F2 on the response developed by the host. Thus, after two days post-infection, PB1-F2 invalidation severely decreased the number of genes activated by the host. PB1-F2 expression induced an increase in the number and level of expression of activated genes linked to cell death, inflammatory response and neutrophil chemotaxis. When generating interactive gene networks specific to PB1-F2, we identified IFN-γ as a central regulator of PB1-F2-regulated genes. The enhanced cell death of airway-recruited leukocytes was evidenced using an apoptosis assay, confirming the pro-apoptotic properties of PB1-F2. Using a NF-kB luciferase adenoviral vector, we were able to quantify in vivo the implication of NF-kB in the inflammation mediated by the influenza virus infection; we found that PB1-F2 expression intensifies the NF-kB activity. Finally, we quantified the neutrophil recruitment within the airways, and showed that this type of leukocyte is more abundant during the infection of the wild-type virus. Collectively, these data demonstrate that PB1-F2 strongly influences the early host response during IAV infection and provides new insights into the mechanisms by which PB1-F2 mediates virulence.
Influenza A viruses may cause severe respiratory disease. PB1-F2, a viral protein identified in 2001 is suspected to play a role in influenza-related pneumonia. In order to understand the impact of PB1-F2 in the pathogenesis underlying Influenza A virus infection, we engineered a mutant virus unable to express PB1-F2. By the use of high-throughput gene expression assays, we compared the host responses of the wild-type-infected and the PB1-F2 mutant-infected mice. We identified that PB1-F2 expression enhances the immune cell death and inflammatory responses of mice. The inflammatory response mediated by the PB1-F2 expression leads to a massive recruitment of leukocytes within the air spaces, a feature that characterizes the influenza-mediated immunopathology. Our results suggest that PB1-F2 is a virulence factor implicated in the deregulation of the inflammatory response observed in acute influenza virus pneumonia. These data underlie the complexities of virus-host interactions and help us understand by which mechanisms Influenza viruses mediate severe respiratory diseases.
The world is facing a novel H1N1 pandemic. A pandemic scare with a similar virus in 1976 resulted in the vaccination of nearly 45 million persons. We hypothesized that prior receipt of the 1976 “swine flu” vaccine would enhance immune responses to the 2009 novel H1N1 strain.
A prospective, volunteer sample of employees 55 years of age and older at a children’s cancer hospital in August of 2009 was assessed for antibody responses to the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus and the 2008-2009 seasonal H1N1 influenza virus.
Antibody responses by hemagglutination-inhibition assay were high against both the seasonal (89.7% had a titer considered seroprotective) and pandemic (88.8% had a seroprotective titer) H1N1 viruses. These antibodies were effective at neutralizing the seasonal H1N1 virus in 68.1% of participants (titer ≥ 40), but only 18.1% had detectable neutralizing titers against the pandemic H1N1. Of 116 participants, 46 (39.7%) received the 1976 “swine flu” vaccine. Receipt of this vaccine significantly enhanced neutralization responses as 8 of 46 (17.4%) vaccine recipients had titers ≥ 160 compared to only 3 of 70 (4.3%) who did not receive the vaccine (P = 0.018 by chi-squared test).
In this cohort, persons 55 years and older had evidence of robust immunity to the 2008-2009 seasonal H1N1 virus. These antibodies were cross-reactive but non-neutralizing against the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain. Receipt of a vaccine to a related virus significantly enhanced the neutralization capacity of these responses, suggesting homologous vaccination against the 2009 pandemic H1N1 would have a similar effect.
Relatively little is known about the viral factors contributing to the lethality of the 1918 pandemic, although its unparalleled virulence was likely due in part to the newly discovered PB1-F2 protein. This protein, while unnecessary for replication, increases apoptosis in monocytes, alters viral polymerase activity in vitro, enhances inflammation and increases secondary pneumonia in vivo. However, the effects the PB1-F2 protein have in vivo remain unclear. To address the mechanisms involved, we intranasally infected groups of mice with either influenza A virus PR8 or a genetically engineered virus that expresses the 1918 PB1-F2 protein on a PR8 background, PR8-PB1-F2(1918). Mice inoculated with PR8 had viral concentrations peaking at 72 hours, while those infected with PR8-PB1-F2(1918) reached peak concentrations earlier, 48 hours. Mice given PR8-PB1-F2(1918) also showed a faster decline in viral loads. We fit a mathematical model to these data to estimate parameter values. The model supports a higher viral production rate per cell and a higher infected cell death rate with the PR8-PB1-F2(1918) virus. We discuss the implications these mechanisms have during an infection with a virus expressing a virulent PB1-F2 on the possibility of a pandemic and on the importance of antiviral treatments.
Influenza A virus is a respiratory pathogen that causes significant morbidity and mortality in infected individuals, particularly during pandemics like the 1918–1919 Spanish Flu pandemic. Recent data suggests that the influenza virus PB1-F2 protein contributes to disease severity. Here, we use data from infected mice together with quantitative analyses to understand how the PB1-F2 protein from the 1918–1919 pandemic strain influences viral kinetics. We find that the rates of virus growth and decay are increased when the 1918 PB1-F2 is present. Our analyses suggest that infection with an influenza virus possessing the 1918 PB1-F2 protein results in a higher rate of viral production from infected cells and a higher rate of infected cell death. These results provide new insights into the mechanisms of PB1-F2 and the virulence and pathogenesis of pandemic strains of influenza.
Health-care associated infections due to methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are increasing worldwide despite current infection control measures. Novel methods for disinfection of MRSA would be useful.
We tested the effectiveness of atmospheric, non-thermal plasma discharge at killing S. aureus, including USA300 strains, and at disinfecting experimentally contaminated hospital pagers.
Exposure of S. aureus to plasma at different concentrations and for varying lengths of time resulted in up to a 4–5 log10 kill on tryptic soy agar plates within 10 minutes and was not toxic to epithelial cells. USA300 strains of MRSA were more resistant to plasma-based killing than other tested strains. Disinfection of hospital pagers experimentally coated with clinically relevant amounts of MRSA could be achieved in as little as 30 seconds.
Generation of plasma is a promising method for disinfection of objects or surfaces that warrants further study in hospital settings. The USA300 strains of S. aureus may be more resistant to disinfection than other strains.
MRSA; Staphylococcus aureus; infection control; plasma; disinfection
We studied the bacterial burden on toilet seats in a children's cancer hospital to validate a policy requesting that immunocompromised children use alcohol wipes on the seats prior to use of the toilets. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was recovered from 3.3% of hospital toilets when wipes were not in use. Use of wipes resulted in a 50-fold reduction in mean daily bacterial counts and eliminated MRSA.
MRSA; Staphylococcus aureus; toilet; infection control; immunocompromised
Secondary bacterial infections contribute to morbidity and mortality from influenza. Vaccine effectiveness is typically assessed using prevention of influenza, not secondary infections, as an endpoint. We vaccinated mice with formalin-inactivated influenza virus vaccine preparations containing disparate HA and NA proteins and demonstrated an ability to induce the appropriate anti-HA and anti-NA immune profiles. Protection from both primary viral and secondary bacterial infection was demonstrated with vaccine-induced immunity directed toward either the HA or the NA. This finding suggests that immunity toward the NA component of the virion is desirable and should be considered in generation of influenza vaccines.
With the recent emergence of a novel pandemic strain, there is presently intense interest in understanding the molecular signatures of virulence of influenza viruses. PB1-F2 proteins from epidemiologically important influenza A virus strains were studied to determine their function and contribution to virulence. Using 27-mer peptides derived from the C-terminal sequence of PB1-F2 and chimeric viruses engineered on a common background, we demonstrated that induction of cell death through PB1-F2 is dependent upon BAK/BAX mediated cytochrome c release from mitochondria. This function was specific for the PB1-F2 protein of A/Puerto Rico/8/34 and was not seen using PB1-F2 peptides derived from past pandemic strains. However, PB1-F2 proteins from the three pandemic strains of the 20th century and a highly pathogenic strain of the H5N1 subtype were shown to enhance the lung inflammatory response resulting in increased pathology. Recently circulating seasonal influenza A strains were not capable of this pro-inflammatory function, having lost the PB1-F2 protein's immunostimulatory activity through truncation or mutation during adaptation in humans. These data suggest that the PB1-F2 protein contributes to the virulence of pandemic strains when the PB1 gene segment is recently derived from the avian reservoir.
There is presently great interest in understanding how influenza viruses cause disease. In this paper, we explore the role of the influenza virus PB1-F2 protein in disease. We show that the ability of the protein to cause cell death is mediated through a mitochondrial death pathway controlled by proteins called BAX or BAK. However, this function of the protein only seems to be relevant to a restricted set of viruses and not past pandemic strains. Instead, the ability to generate inflammation in the lung proves to be a common trait of all past pandemic strains as well as the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza strains which remain a significant pandemic threat. It appears likely that this pro-inflammatory phenotype is a characteristic of viruses emerging from the avian reservoir and is therefore important for new strains that cross the species barrier and establish themselves in humans. During circulation and adaptation in the mammalian lung, this function is typically lost. Of note, the novel 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain does not express a full-length PB1-F2. Were it to acquire a fully functional, inflammatory PB1-F2 through reassortment, this could herald greatly enhanced disease potential.
The influenza A virus PB1-F2 protein has been implicated as a virulence factor, but the mechanism by which it enhances pathogenicity is not understood. The PB1 gene segment of the H1N1 swine-origin influenza virus pandemic strain codes for a truncated PB1-F2 protein which terminates after 11 amino acids but could acquire the full-length form by mutation or reassortment. It is therefore important to understand the function and impact of this protein. We systematically assessed the effect that PB1-F2 expression has on viral polymerase activity, accumulation and localization of PB1, and replication in vitro and in mice. We used both the laboratory strain PR8 and a set of viruses engineered to study clinically relevant PB1-F2 proteins. PB1-F2 expression had modest effects on polymerase activity, PB1 accumulation, and replication that were cell type and virus strain dependent. Disruption of the PB1-F2 reading frame in a recent, seasonal H3N2 influenza virus strain did not affect these parameters, suggesting that this is not a universal function of the protein. Disruption of PB1-F2 expression in several backgrounds or expression of PB1-F2 from the 1918 pandemic strain or a 1956 H1N1 strain had no effect on viral lung loads in mice. Alternate mechanisms besides alterations to replication are likely responsible for the enhanced virulence in mammalian hosts attributed to PB1-F2 in previous studies.
Vaccines directed toward individual strains of highly-variable viruses like influenza lose efficacy when the circulating viruses no longer resemble the vaccine isolate. Historically, inclusion of more than one isolate per subtype of influenza has been limited by the need to include large doses of antigen with typical protein-based vaccine approaches and by concerns that an immunodominant response to one antigen will limit the response to closely related antigens. Here we provide proof of principle demonstrating that a multi-valent vaccine directed against multiple influenza A virus hemagglutinins (HAs) can elicit broad, neutralizing immunity against multiple strains within a single influenza subtype (H3). We employed a DNA vaccine to direct immunity toward the HA component alone, and a live attenuated influenza virus (LAIV) to assess immunity against the whole virus. Delivery of either HA-DNA or LAIV yielded broad protective immunity across multiple antigenic clusters, including heterologous strains, that was similar to the combined immunity of each antigen assessed separately. Priming with HA-DNA followed by an LAIV boost strengthened and broadened the antibody response toward all three H3 HAs. This prime:boost multi-valent approach was thus able to elicit immunity against multiple strains within the H3 subtype without evidence of immune interference between closely related antigens. Although the trivalent vaccine described here is not a universal vaccine, since protection was limited to circulating viruses from about a two decade period, these data suggest that full protection within a subtype is possible using this approach with multiple antigens from current and predicted future influenza strains.
Influenza; DNA Vaccine; Hemagglutinin
Pneumonia as a secondary infection after influenza is a major cause of excess morbidity and mortality despite the availability and use of antibiotics active against Streptococcus pneumoniae. We hypothesized that use of a bacteriostatic protein synthesis inhibitor would improve outcomes by reducing the inflammatory response. BALB/c mice infected with influenza virus and super-infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae were treated with either the cell wall active antibiotic ampicillin or protein synthesis inhibitors clindamycin or azithromycin. Ampicillin therapy performed significantly worse (56% survival) in the model compared to clindamycin therapy either alone (82%) or in combination with ampicillin (80%) and to azithromycin (92%). Improved survival appeared to be mediated by decreased inflammation manifested as lower levels of inflammatory cells and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the lungs, and less severe histopathology. These data suggest that beta-lactam therapy may not be optimal as first line treatment of community acquired pneumonia when it follows influenza.
influenza; Streptococcus pneumoniae; pneumonia; beta-lactam; guidelines
A pandemic novel H1N1 swine-origin influenza virus has emerged. Most recently the World Health Organization has announced that in a country-dependent fashion, up to 15% of cases may require hospitalization, often including respiratory support. It is now clear that healthy children and young adults are disproportionately affected, most unusually among those with severe respiratory disease without underlying conditions. One possible explanation for this case age distribution is the doctrine of Original Antigenic Sin, i.e., novel H1N1 may be antigenically similar to H1N1 viruses that circulated at an earlier time. Persons whose first exposure to influenza viruses was to such similar viruses would be relatively immune. However, this principle is not sufficient to explain the graded susceptibility between ages 20 and 60, the reduced susceptibility in children below age 10, and the unusual toxicity observed.
We collected case data from 11 countries, about 60% of all cases reported through mid-July 2009. We compared sequence data for the hemagglutinin of novel H1N1 with sequences of H1N1 viruses from 1918 to the present. We searched for sequence differences that imply loss of antigenicity either directly through amino acid substitution or by the appearance of sites for potential glycosylation proximal to sites known to be antigenic in humans. We also considered T-cell epitopes.
In our composite, over 75% of confirmed cases of novel H1N1 occurred in persons ≤ 30 years old, with peak incidence in the age range 10-19 years. Less than 3% of cases occurred in persons over 65, with a gradation in incidence between ages 20 and 60 years.
The sequence data indicates that novel H1N1 is most similar to H1N1 viruses that circulated before 1943. Novel H1N1 lacks glycosylation sites on the globular head of hemagglutinin (HA1) near antigenic regions, a pattern shared with the 1918 pandemic strain and H1N1 viruses that circulated until the early 1940s. Later H1N1 viruses progressively added new glycosylation sites likely to shield antigenic epitopes, while T-cell epitopes were relatively unchanged.
In this evolutionary context, Original Antigenic Sin exposure should produce an immune response increasingly mismatched to novel H1N1 in progressively younger persons. We suggest that it is this mismatch that produces both the gradation in susceptibility and the unusual toxicity. Several murine studies suggest specific cell types as a likely basis of the unusual toxicity. These studies also point to widely available pharmaceutical agents as plausible candidates for mitigating the toxic effects. The principle of Original Antigenic Sin modified by glycosylation appears to explain both the case age distribution and the unusual toxicity pattern of the novel H1N1 pandemic. In addition, it suggests pharmaceutical agents for immediate investigation for mitigation potential, and provides strategic guidance for the distribution of pandemic mitigation resources of all types.
Historically, vaccines developed toward influenza viruses of the B type using methodologies developed for influenza A viruses as a blueprint have not been equally efficacious or effective. Because most influenza research and public attention concerns influenza A viruses, these shortcomings have not been adequately addressed. In this manuscript, we utilized different influenza vaccine vehicles to compare immunogenicity and protection in mice and ferrets after vaccination against an influenza B virus. We report that plasmid DNA vaccines demonstrate low immunogenicity profiles and poor protection compared to either whole, inactivated influenza virus (IIV) or, live, attenuated influenza virus (LAIV) vaccines. When mixed prime:boost regimens using LAIV and IIV were studied, we observed a boosting effect in mice after priming with LAIV that was not seen when IIV was used as the prime. In ferrets LAIV induced high antibody titers after a single dose and provided a boost in IIV-primed animals. Regimens including LAIV as a prime demonstrated enhanced protection, and adjuvantation was required for efficacy using the IIV preparation. Our results differ from generally accepted influenza A virus vaccine models, and argue that strategies for control of influenza B virus should be considered separately from those for influenza A virus.
Influenza; DNA vaccine; Hemagglutinin
There are three requirements for an influenza virus to cause a pandemic. It must be antigenically novel, cause severe disease, and transmit easily from human to human. Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5N1 subtype currently circulating in bird populations in Asia, Africa, and Europe have met 2 of these criteria, and there is significant concern that these viruses will be the cause of the next pandemic. International efforts to prepare for a possible pandemic are underway. Priorities for pandemic planning include surveillance of influenza viruses in wild bird populations and at the avian-human interface, research into factors affecting the pathogenicity of these strains, stockpiling effective antivirals for use as a stopgap until an appropriate vaccine can be developed and distributed, and gaining an improved understanding of the utility of nonpharmaceutical interventions to slow or prevent the spread of these viruses within humans. While considerable progress has been made in recent years towards readying the world for such an event, there is more work to be done. Physicians and hospitals can begin by educating themselves on the problem and developing a pandemic plan for their own practice or organization.
influenza virus; pandemic; vaccine; antivirals; non-pharmaceutical interventions