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Evidence for antigenic seniority in influenza A (H3N2) antibody responses in Southern China

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Justin Lessler
  • Steven Riley
  • Jonathan M. Read
  • Shuying Wang
  • Huachen Zhu
  • Gavin J. D. Smith
  • Yi Guan
  • Chao Qiang Jiang
  • Derek A. T. Cummings
Article number1002802
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>19/07/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>PLoS Pathogens
Issue number7
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


A key observation about the human immune response to repeated exposure to influenza A is that the first strain infecting an individual apparently produces the strongest adaptive immune response. Although antibody titers measure that response, the interpretation of titers to multiple strains - from the same sera - in terms of infection history is clouded by age effects, cross reactivity and immune waning. From July to September 2009, we collected serum samples from 151 residents of Guangdong Province, China, 7 to 81 years of age. Neutralization tests were performed against strains representing six antigenic clusters of H3N2 influenza circulating between 1968 and 2008, and three recent locally circulating strains. Patterns of neutralization titers were compared based on age at time of testing and age at time of the first isolation of each virus. Neutralization titers were highest for H3N2 strains that circulated in an individual's first decade of life (peaking at 7 years). Further, across strains and ages at testing, statistical models strongly supported a pattern of titers declining smoothly with age at the time a strain was first isolated. Those born 10 or more years after a strain emerged generally had undetectable neutralization titers to that strain (