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Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2013 Jan;7 Suppl 1:44-9. doi: 10.1111/irv.12051.

Assays for monitoring susceptibility of influenza viruses to neuraminidase inhibitors.

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  • 1Virus Surveillance and Diagnosis Branch, Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Close monitoring of drug susceptibility among human influenza viruses was necessitated by widespread resistance to M2 inhibitors in influenza H1N1 (pre-pandemic and 2009 pandemic) and H3N2 viruses, and of oseltamivir resistance in pre-pandemic H1N1 viruses. The FDA-approved neuraminidase (NA) inhibitors (NAIs), oseltamivir and zanamivir, as well as investigational NAIs, peramivir and laninamivir, are currently the principal treatment options for managing influenza infection. However, there are challenges associated with assessing virus susceptibility to this class of drugs. Traditional cell culture-based assays are not reliable for phenotypic testing of NAI susceptibility due to complexity in interpretation. Two types of laboratory assays are currently available for monitoring NAI susceptibility, phenotypic such as the neuraminidase inhibition (NI) assay and genotypic. The NI assay's requirement for propagated virus lengthens testing turnaround; therefore, the need for timely detection of molecular markers associated with NAI resistance (e.g., H275Y in H1N1) has spurred the development of rapid, high-throughput assays, such as real-time RT-PCR and pyrosequencing. The high sensitivity of genotypic assays allows testing of clinical specimens thus eliminating the need for virus propagation in cell culture. The NI assays are especially valuable when a novel virus emerges or a new NAI becomes available. Modifications continue to be introduced into NI assays, including optimization and data analysis criteria. The optimal assay of choice for monitoring influenza drug susceptibility varies widely depending on the needs of laboratories (e.g., surveillance purposes, clinical settings). Optimally, it is desirable to combine functional and genetic analyses of virus isolates and, when possible, the respective clinical specimens.

Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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