Biomed Res Int 2014 11;2014:231365. Epub 2014 Jun 11.
Viral Pseudotype Unit, Medway School of Pharmacy, University of Kent, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Chatham ME4 4TB, UK.
The human population is constantly exposed to multiple influenza A subtypes due to zoonotic spillover and rapid viral evolution driven by intrinsic error-prone replication and immunological pressure. In this context, antibody responses directed against the HA protein are of importance since they have been shown to correlate with protective immunity. Serological techniques, detecting these responses, play a critical role for influenza surveillance, vaccine development, and assessment. As the recent human pandemics and avian influenza outbreaks have demonstrated, there is an urgent need to be better prepared to assess the contribution of the antibody response to protection against newly emerged viruses and to evaluate the extent of preexisting heterosubtypic immunity in populations. In this study, 68 serum samples collected from the Italian population between 1992 and 2007 were found to be positive for antibodies against H5N1 as determined by single radial hemolysis (SRH), but most were negative when evaluated using haemagglutination inhibition (HI) and microneutralisation (MN) assays. As a result of these discordant serological findings, the increased sensitivity of lentiviral pseudotypes was exploited in pseudotype-based neutralisation (pp-NT) assays and the results obtained provide further insight into the complex nature of humoral immunity against influenza A viruses.