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Viruses. 2019 Aug 20;11(8). pii: E766. doi: 10.3390/v11080766.

Inhibition of Influenza A Virus by Human Infant Saliva.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia.
2
Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory Epidemiology Unit at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia.
3
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia. lorena@unimelb.edu.au.

Abstract

Innate antiviral factors in saliva play a role in protection against respiratory infections. We tested the anti-influenza virus activities of saliva samples taken from human infants, 1-12 months old, with no history of prior exposure to influenza. In contrast to the inhibitory activity we observed in mouse and ferret saliva, the activity of human infant saliva was complex, with both sialic acid-dependent and independent components, the proportion of which differed between individuals. Taken as a whole, we showed that the major anti-influenza activity of infant saliva is acquired over the first year of life and is associated with sialic acid-containing molecules. The activity of sialic acid-independent inhibitors was lower overall, more variable between individuals, and less dependent on age. The results show that the saliva of very young infants can provide a degree of protection against influenza, which may be critical in the absence of adaptive immunity.

KEYWORDS:

ferret; human infant; influenza virus; innate inhibitors; mouse; saliva

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