In an age-based design, ∼100 banked/residual sera per 10-year age stratum were assessed by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and microneutralization (MN) assays for preexisting antibody to pH1N1 and recent seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 strains. In a separate birth cohort design defined by childhood influenza A/subtype priming (1919-1929: H1N1; 1945-1949: H1N1; 1958-1960: H2N2; 1969-1970: H3N2; 1978-1989: H3N2/H1N1), whole blood was collected from up to 50 volunteers per birth cohort. The ratio of Th1(IFN-γ):Th2(IL-10) cytokine responses was evaluated in vitro.
Antibody to seasonal viruses was highest in school-age children. Cross-reactive HI/MN antibody to pH1N1 was low among participants <70 years of age (yoa; 6%/4% ≥ 40), but seroprevalence increased at 70-79 yoa (27%/6%), increased even more at 80-89 yoa (65%/47%), and was highest at ≥90 yoa (88%/76%). CMI to pH1N1 was evident in all 5 birth cohorts but was lower compared with seasonal strains. There was little differentiation by subtype priming, but the Th1:Th2 ratio for all viruses dropped significantly in the 2 oldest cohorts.
Pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) surveillance data showed lower attack rates but higher risk of severe outcomes with advanced age. We explored immuno-epidemiologic correlates of surveillance findings including humoral and cell-mediated immunity (CMI).
Preexisting antibody may have protected the very old from pH1N1 infection, while diminished CMI may have contributed to greater severity once infected. In the young, cross-reactive pH1N1 antibody was mostly absent, while more intact CMI may have protected against severe outcomes.
Skowronski DM, Hottes TS, McElhaney JE, Janjua NZ, Sabaiduc S, Chan T, Gentleman B, Purych D, Gardy J, Patrick DM, Brunham RC, De Serres G, Petric M. (2011). Immuno-epidemiologic correlates of pandemic H1N1 surveillance observations: higher antibody and lower cell-mediated immune responses with advanced age. The Journal of infectious diseases, 203(2)