Send to

Choose Destination
J Virol. 2015 Dec;89(23):11935-44. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01792-15. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

Differential Susceptibilities of Human Lung Primary Cells to H1N1 Influenza Viruses.

Author information

Department of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado, USA.
J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, Maryland, USA.
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA


Human alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) and alveolar macrophages (AMs) are the first lines of lung defense. Here, we report that AECs are the direct targets for H1N1 viruses that have circulated since the 2009 pandemic (H1N1pdm09). AMs are less susceptible to H1N1pdm09 virus, but they produce significantly more inflammatory cytokines than AECs from the same donor. AECs form an intact epithelial barrier that is destroyed by H1N1pdm09 infection. However, there is significant variation in the cellular permissiveness to H1N1pdm09 infection among different donors. AECs from obese donors appear to be more susceptible to H1N1pdm09 infection, whereas gender, smoking history, and age do not appear to affect AEC susceptibility. There is also a difference in response to different strains of H1N1pdm09 viruses. Compared to A/California04/09 (CA04), A/New York/1682/09 (NY1682) is more infectious and causes more epithelial barrier injury, although it stimulates less cytokine production. We further determined that a single amino acid residue substitution in NY1682 hemagglutinin is responsible for the difference in infectivity. In conclusion, this is the first study of host susceptibility of human lung primary cells and the integrity of the alveolar epithelial barrier to influenza. Further elucidation of the mechanism of increased susceptibility of AECs from obese subjects may facilitate the development of novel protection strategies against influenza virus infection.


Disease susceptibility of influenza is determined by host and viral factors. Human alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) form the key line of lung defenses against pathogens. Using primary AECs from different donors, we provided cellular level evidence that obesity might be a risk factor for increased susceptibility to influenza. We also compared the infections of two closely related 2009 pandemic H1N1 strains in AECs from the same donor and identified a key viral factor that affected host susceptibility, the dominance of which may be correlated with disease epidemiology. In addition, primary human AECs can serve as a convenient and powerful model to investigate the mechanism of influenza-induced lung injury and determine the effect of genetic and epigenetic factors on host susceptibility to pandemic influenza virus infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center