Prospects for Improved Immunization Against Influenza
Soon after the first isolation of influenza A virus from humans in 1933, effective artificial immunization against the disease was accomplished empirically with inactivated and attenuated viral vaccines. It is now known that immunity to influenza is mediated principally by antibodies to epitopes of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) external glycoproteins of the influenza virion. Either antigen alone is effective, but only antibody to the HA is neutralizing and prevents infection. At its simplest, immunity to influenza can be achieved by parenteral injection of the HA or its components, or even by the administration of HA-specific antibody. Not inappropriately, therefore, the HA of influenza virus is the best studied of any viral protein. As a consequence, its three-dimensional structure has been determined, its antigenic sites have been localized with monoclonal antibody, and its biologic functions in cellular attachment and entry have been defined  (see Wilson, Chapter 2, this volume). Knowledge of its nucleotide-deduced amino acid sequence has encouraged the search for immunogenic oligopeptides of the HA protein, as well as their synthesis, with the expectation that such components can be used as highly specific vaccines. Alternatively and ideally, oligopeptides from conserved regions of the molecule might induce broad immunity to a wide range of virus variants.
KeywordsInfluenza Virus Influenza Vaccination Antigenic Site Influenza Virus Vaccine Human Influenza Virus
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