Neutralization of influenza virus by normal human sera: Mechanisms involving antibody and complement

D. P. Beebe, R. D. Schreiber, N. R. Cooper

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All normal human sera examined neutralized WS/33 H1N1 influenza virus efficiently by one of two antibody-dependent mechanisms. A minority of the sera contained moderate levels of IgG antibody directed against the viral hemagglutinin that had the ability to directly neutralize the virus. The majority of sera tested contained very low levels of IgG anti-hemagglutinin antibody, which was detectable with a specific ELISA but not by conventional HAI assays. Such IgG antibody was unable to directly neutralize the virus. Studies with agammaglobulinemic serum and with sera depleted of and reconstituted with complement components established essential roles for IgG and the components of the classical complement pathway through C3 for neutralization. The components of the alternative and membrane attack pathways were not needed for neutralization. As anticipated from the requirement for IgG and exclusive mediation of neutralization by the classical pathway, the virus-IgG immune complex activated purified C1. Binding of C3 and C4 to the virus was demonstrated, as was classical pathway-mediated triggering of the alternative pathway, with recruitment of properdin. In addition, the H1N1 influenza virus also directly activated the alternative complement pathway in human serum, leading to C3 and properdin deposition on the viral envelope. Such direct alternative pathway activation also required immunoglobulin. However, the alternative pathway alone was unable to neutralize the virus. Thus, most normal sera examined contain low levels of IgG anti-hemagglutinin antibody, which activate the classical pathway of the complement system and neutralize WS/33 influenza virus by deposition of C3 and C4 on the viral envelope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1322
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1983


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