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J Virol. 1999 Feb;73(2):1453-9.

Protection against a lethal avian influenza A virus in a mammalian system.

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Department of Immunology, St. Jude Children's Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38101, USA.


The question of how best to protect the human population against a potential influenza pandemic has been raised by the recent outbreak caused by an avian H5N1 virus in Hong Kong. The likely strategy would be to vaccinate with a less virulent, laboratory-adapted H5N1 strain isolated previously from birds. Little attention has been given, however, to dissecting the consequences of sequential exposure to serologically related influenza A viruses using contemporary immunology techniques. Such experiments with the H5N1 viruses are limited by the potential risk to humans. An extremely virulent H3N8 avian influenza A virus has been used to infect both immunoglobulin-expressing (Ig+/+) and Ig-/- mice primed previously with a laboratory-adapted H3N2 virus. The cross-reactive antibody response was very protective, while the recall of CD8(+) T-cell memory in the Ig-/- mice provided some small measure of resistance to a low-dose H3N8 challenge. The H3N8 virus also replicated in the respiratory tracts of the H3N2-primed Ig+/+ mice, generating secondary CD8(+) and CD4(+) T-cell responses that may contribute to recovery. The results indicate that the various components of immune memory operate together to provide optimal protection, and they support the idea that related viruses of nonhuman origin can be used as vaccines.

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