Individuals younger than 6 months of age are at significant risk from influenza virus infection; however, there is currently no vaccine approved for this age group. Influenza virus neuraminidase (NA) has emerged as a potential additional target for vaccine strategies. In this study, we sought to understand the ability of newborns to mount an antibody response to NA. Here we employed a nonhuman primate model, given the similarities to humans in immune system and development. We measured antibody to NA following infection with an H1N1 virus or following vaccination and challenge. Administration of an inactivated virus vaccine was not capable of eliciting detectable NA-specific antibody, even in the presence of adjuvants previously shown to increase total virus-specific IgG. However, both naive and vaccinated newborns generated a NA-specific antibody response following virus infection. Interestingly, the presence of the vaccine-induced response did not prevent generation of systemic antibody to NA following challenge, although the respiratory response was reduced in a significant portion of newborns. These findings are the first, to our knowledge, to evaluate the newborn response to the influenza NA protein as well as the impact of previous vaccination on generation of these antibodies following virus infection.
Patrick K. Shultz, Kali F. Crofts, Beth C. Holbrook, Martha A. Alexander-Miller