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Emerg Infect Dis. 2008 Jan;14(1):121-8. doi: 10.3201/eid1401.061283.

Cross-subtype immunity against avian influenza in persons recently vaccinated for influenza.

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Laboratory of Virology, National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, Istituti di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Via Portuense 292, Rome, Italy.


Avian influenza virus (H5N1) can be transmitted to humans, resulting in a severe or fatal disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the immune cross-reactivity between human and avian influenza (H5N1) strains in healthy donors vaccinated for seasonal influenza A (H1N1)/(H3N2). A small frequency of CD4 T cells specific for subtype H5N1 was detected in several persons at baseline, and seasonal vaccine administration enhanced the frequency of such reactive CD4 T cells. We also observed that seasonal vaccination is able to raise neutralizing immunity against influenza (H5N1) in a large number of donors. No correlation between influenza-specific CD4 T cells and humoral responses was observed. N1 may possibly be a target for both cellular and humoral cross-type immunity, but additional experiments are needed to clarify this point. These findings highlight the possibility of boosting cross-type cellular and humoral immunity against highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus subtype H5N1 by seasonal influenza vaccination.

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