Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pandemic Flu Can Infect Cells Deep In The Lungs

Date:
September 11, 2009
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Pandemic swine flu can infect cells deeper in the lungs than seasonal flu can, according to a new study. The researchers say this may explain why people infected with the pandemic strain of swine-origin H1N1 influenza are more likely to suffer more severe symptoms than those infected with the seasonal strain of H1N1.

Pandemic swine flu can infect cells deeper in the lungs than seasonal flu can, according to a new study published today in Nature Biotechnology. The researchers, from Imperial College London, say this may explain why people infected with the pandemic strain of swine-origin H1N1 influenza are more likely to suffer more severe symptoms than those infected with the seasonal strain of H1N1. They also suggest that scientists should monitor the current pandemic H1N1 influenza virus for changes in the way it infects cells that could make infections more serious.

Related Articles


Influenza viruses infect cells by attaching to bead-like molecules on the outside of the cell, called receptors. Different viruses attach to different receptors, and if a virus cannot find its specific receptors, it cannot get into the cell. Once inside the cell, the virus uses the cell's machinery to make thousands more viruses, which then burst out of the cell and infect neighbouring ones, establishing an infection.

Seasonal influenza viruses attach to receptors found on cells in the nose, throat and upper airway, enabling them to infect a person's respiratory tract. Today's research, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, shows that pandemic H1N1 swine flu can also attach to a receptor found on cells deep inside the lungs, which can result in a more severe lung infection.

The pandemic influenza virus's ability to stick to the additional receptors may explain why the virus replicates and spreads between cells more quickly: if a flu virus can bind to more than one type of receptor, it can attach itself to a larger area of the respiratory tract, infecting more cells and causing a more serious infection.

Professor Ten Feizi, a corresponding author of today's paper from the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London, said: "Most people infected with swine-origin flu in the current pandemic have experienced relatively mild symptoms. However, some people have had more severe lung infections, which can be worse than those caused by seasonal flu. Our new research shows how the virus does this - by attaching to receptors mostly found on cells deep in the lungs. This is something seasonal flu cannot do."

The researchers found that pandemic H1N1 influenza bound more weakly to the receptors in the lungs than to those in the upper respiratory tract. This is why most people infected with the virus have experienced mild symptoms. However, the researchers are concerned that the virus could mutate to bind more strongly to these receptors.

"If the flu virus mutates in the future, it may attach to the receptors deep inside the lungs more strongly, and this could mean that more people would experience serious symptoms. We think scientists should be on the lookout for these kinds of changes in the virus so we can try to find ways of minimising the impact of such changes," added Professor Feizi.

The researchers compared the way seasonal and pandemic H1N1 flu viruses infect cells by identifying which receptors each virus binds to. To do this, the researchers used a glass surface with 86 different receptors attached to it, called a carbohydrate microarray. When viruses were added to the glass surface, they stuck to their specific receptors and the corresponding areas on the plate 'lit up'. This meant the researchers could see which receptors the different viruses attached to.

Pandemic H1H1 influenza could bind strongly to receptors called α2-6, which are found in the nose, throat and upper airway, and it could also attach more weakly to α2-3 receptors, which are found on cells deeper inside the lungs. However, seasonal H1N1 influenza could only attach to α2-6.

"Receptor binding determines how well a virus spreads between cells and causes an infection," said Professor Feizi. "Our new study adds to our understanding of how swine-origin influenza H1N1 virus is behaving in the current pandemic, and shows us changes we need to look out for."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Childs et al. Receptor-binding specificity of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus determined by carbohydrate microarray. Nature Biotechnology, 2009; 27 (9): 797 DOI: 10.1038/nbt0909-797

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Pandemic Flu Can Infect Cells Deep In The Lungs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910083915.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2009, September 11). Pandemic Flu Can Infect Cells Deep In The Lungs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910083915.htm
Imperial College London. "Pandemic Flu Can Infect Cells Deep In The Lungs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910083915.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins