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J Gen Virol. 2011 Jun;92(Pt 6):1428-34. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.030346-0. Epub 2011 Mar 2.

Cytokine production by primary human macrophages infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 or pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza viruses.

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Division of Virology, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses have caused infection in humans, with a high mortality rate, since 1997. While the pathogenesis of this infection is not completely understood, hypercytokinaemia and alveolar macrophages are thought to play a role. To gain further insight into the cytokine-mediated pathogenesis of this infection in humans, we measured various cytokines produced by primary human macrophages infected with H5N1, pandemic H1N1 or seasonal influenza viruses. We found that many cytokines were produced at higher levels on infection with the H5N1 strains tested compared with seasonal influenza viruses. Interestingly, the extent of cytokine induction varied among the H5N1 strains and did not correlate with replicative ability in macrophages. Further, a pandemic H1N1 virus induced higher levels of several cytokines compared with seasonal viruses and some H5N1 strains. Our results demonstrate that high cytokine induction is not a universal feature of all H5N1 viruses.

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