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J Immunol. 2010 Nov 1;185(9):4998-5002. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001395. Epub 2010 Oct 1.

Cutting edge: CD4 T cells generated from encounter with seasonal influenza viruses and vaccines have broad protein specificity and can directly recognize naturally generated epitopes derived from the live pandemic H1N1 virus.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The unexpected emergence of pandemic H1N1 influenza has generated significant interest in understanding immunological memory to influenza and how previous encounters with seasonal strains influence our ability to respond to novel strains. In this study, we evaluate the memory T cell repertoire in healthy adults to determine the abundance and protein specificity of influenza-reactive CD4 T cells, using an unbiased and empirical approach, and assess the ability of CD4 T cells to recognize epitopes naturally generated by infection with pandemic H1N1 virus. Our studies revealed that most individuals have abundant circulating CD4 T cells that recognize influenza-encoded proteins and that a strikingly large number of CD4 T cells can recognize autologous cells infected with live H1N1 virus. Collectively, our results indicate that a significant fraction of CD4 T cells generated from priming with seasonal virus and vaccines can be immediately mobilized upon infection with pandemic influenza strains derived from antigenic shift.

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