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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26335. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026335. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

A contributing role for anti-neuraminidase antibodies on immunity to pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza A virus.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Division of Virology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America.



Exposure to contemporary seasonal influenza A viruses affords partial immunity to pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza A virus (pH1N1) infection. The impact of antibodies to the neuraminidase (NA) of seasonal influenza A viruses to cross-immunity against pH1N1 infection is unknown.


Antibodies to the NA of different seasonal H1N1 influenza strains were tested for cross-reactivity against A/California/04/09 (pH1N1). A panel of reverse genetic (rg) recombinant viruses was generated containing 7 genes of the H1N1 influenza strain A/Puerto Rico/08/34 (PR8) and the NA gene of either the pandemic H1N1 2009 strain (pH1N1) or one of the following contemporary seasonal H1N1 strains: A/Solomon/03/06 (rg Solomon) or A/Brisbane/59/07 (rg Brisbane). Convalescent sera collected from mice infected with recombinant viruses were measured for cross-reactive antibodies to pH1N1 via Hemagglutinin Inhibition (HI) or Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). The ectodomain of a recombinant NA protein from the pH1N1 strain (pNA-ecto) was expressed, purified and used in ELISA to measure cross-reactive antibodies. Analysis of sera from elderly humans immunized with trivalent split-inactivated influenza (TIV) seasonal vaccines prior to 2009 revealed considerable cross-reactivity to pNA-ecto. High titers of cross-reactive antibodies were detected in mice inoculated with either rg Solomon or rg Brisbane. Convalescent sera from mice inoculated with recombinant viruses were used to immunize naïve recipient Balb/c mice by passive transfer prior to challenge with pH1N1. Mice receiving rg California sera were better protected than animals receiving rg Solomon or rg Brisbane sera.


The NA of contemporary seasonal H1N1 influenza strains induces a cross-reactive antibody response to pH1N1 that correlates with reduced lethality from pH1N1 challenge, albeit less efficiently than anti-pH1N1 NA antibodies. These findings demonstrate that seasonal NA antibodies contribute to but are not sufficient for cross-reactive immunity to pH1N1.

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