Correlates of protection against influenza

  • Emanuele Montomoli
Part of the Birkhäuser Advances in Infectious Diseases book series (BAID)


Correlates of protection for influenza virus has not been defined, but it is widely believed that protection against influenza can be conferred by serum hemagglutinin (HA) antibodies. The immune responses to injected influenza vaccines are routinely assessed using serological HA antibodies titration. It is generally accepted that neutralizing and HA antibodies, as well as antibodies to neuraminidase, can be detected in serum after 3–4 weeks post primary infection or vaccination.

Serological assays commonly used to quantify antibodies specific for influenza viruses include hemagglutination inhibition (HAI), single radial hemolysis (SRH), microneutralization (MN), ELISA and Western blot, the most widely used assays being HAI and SRH. Each method used for antibodies titration has different characteristics, and the validity index and specific use (seroepidemiology, serodiagnosis, response to vaccination, etc.) have to be considered to select the most suitable one. Recently ELISA and MN tests have been developed thanks to the discovery of the HA structure. While the number of data collected by conventional assays (HAI and SRH) has permitted a fairly good optimization, serological measures are used to characterize the number of antibodies before and after vaccination.

HAI is the assay used most frequently for influenza antibody titration; however, it has low sensitivity in detecting responses to avian viruses in mammalian sera and alternative serological tests are needed. SRH utilizes a complement-mediated hemolysis reaction to measure the amount of antibody. This test appears to be as sensitive as the MN assay. HAI and SRH assays are not functional tests for measuring immunity to influenza and suffers from several technical drawbacks.

Development of these assays will be a further step in preparation of new influenza vaccines, particularly for cell-derived products. Additional immunological assessments, such as cell-mediated immunity and the role of neuraminidase, need to be explored to give more insight into the overall effects of vaccination.


Influenza Virus Avian Influenza Influenza Vaccine Avian Influenza Virus Versus IRUS 
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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel/Switzerland 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emanuele Montomoli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiopathology, Experimental Medicine and Public Health, Laboratory of Molecular EpidemiologyUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

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