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Prior exposure to seasonal influenza may explain the mildness of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic

Date:
June 21, 2010
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
Researchers suggest a new theory for why swine flu infections turned out to be so mild. Prior exposure to seasonal influenza A, either infection or vaccination, may induce a cross-reactive immune response against the pandemic virus.

Hong Kong researchers suggest a new theory for why swine flu infections turned out to be so mild. Prior exposure to seasonal influenza A, either infection or vaccination, may induce a cross-reactive immune response against the pandemic virus. They report their findings in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Virology.

Although the outbreak of human H1N1 in 2009 spread to pandemic proportions, the illness was considered mild in most patients compared to seasonal influenza. Currently available seasonal flu vaccines do not offer cross-reactivity to pandemic H1N1 in any age group, suggesting that individuals previously infected or exposed to seasonal influenza A viruses may have memory cell-induced cross-protection to pandemic H1N1.

Prior research showed humans having cross-reactive memory cells to a wide range of H5N1 peptides despite any previous exposure to avian influenza A (H5N1). In this study researchers determined that memory cells established by seasonal influenza viruses can break down pandemic H1N1-infected target cells and ultimately induce cross-protective antibodies.

"Our data suggest that individuals who were infected with seasonal human influenza A viruses previously or who received seasonal human influenza vaccines may derive benefit, at least in part, from the preexisting cross-reactive memory cytotoxic T lymphocytes to reduce the severity of pdmH1N1 infection even without protective antibodies," say the researchers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. Tu, H. Mao, J. Zheng, Y. Liu, S.S. Chiu, G. Qin, P.L. Chan, K.T. Lam, J. Guan, L. Zhang, Y. Guan, K.Y. Yuen, J.S. Malik Peiris, Y.L. Lau. Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes Established by Seasonal Human Influenza Cross-React against 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus. Journal of Virology, 2010; 84 (13): 6527 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00519-10

Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Prior exposure to seasonal influenza may explain the mildness of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618142332.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2010, June 21). Prior exposure to seasonal influenza may explain the mildness of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618142332.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Prior exposure to seasonal influenza may explain the mildness of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618142332.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

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