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Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2011 Jun;9(6):669-83. doi: 10.1586/eri.11.51.

Serologic assays for influenza surveillance, diagnosis and vaccine evaluation.

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


Serological techniques play a critical role in various aspects of influenza surveillance, vaccine development and evaluation, and sometimes in diagnosis, particularly for novel influenza virus infections of humans. Because individuals are repeatedly exposed to antigenically and genetically diverse influenza viruses over a lifetime, the gold standard for detection of a recent influenza virus infection or response to current vaccination is the demonstration of a seroconversion, a fourfold or greater rise in antibody titer relative to a baseline sample, to a circulating influenza strain or vaccine component. The hemagglutination-inhibition assay remains the most widely used assay to detect strain-specific serum antibodies to influenza. The hemagglutination-inhibition assay is also used to monitor antigenic changes among influenza viruses which are constantly evolving; such antigenic data is essential for consideration of changes in influenza vaccine composition. The use of the hemagglutinin-specific microneutralization assay has increased, in part, owing to its sensitivity for detection of human antibodies to novel influenza viruses of animal origin. Neutralization assays using replication-incompetent pseudotyped particles may be advantageous in some laboratory settings for detection of antibodies to influenza viruses with heightened biocontainment requirements. The use of standardized protocols and antibody standards are important steps to improve reproducibility and interlaboratory comparability of results of serologic assays for influenza viruses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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