BACKGROUND: Antigenic characterization of influenza viruses is typically based on hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay data for viral isolates tested against strain-specific postinfection ferret antisera. Here, similar virus characterizations were performed using serological data from humans with primary influenza A(H3N2) infection. METHODS: We screened sera collected between 1995 and 2011 from children between 9 and 24 months of age for influenza virus antibodies, performed HI tests for the positive sera against 23 influenza viruses isolated between 1989 and 2011, and measured HI titers of antisera against influenza A(H3N2) from 24 ferrets against the same panel of viruses. RESULTS: Of the 17 positive human sera, 6 had a high response, showing HI patterns that would be expected from primary infection antisera, while 11 sera had lower, more dispersed patterns of reactivity that are not easily explained. The antigenic map based on the high-response human HI data was similar to the map created using ferret data. CONCLUSIONS: Although the overall structure of the ferret and human antigenic maps is similar, local differences in virus positions indicate that the human and ferret immune system might see antigenic properties of viruses differently. Further studies are needed to establish the degree of similarity between serological patterns in ferret and human data.
Fonville, J. M., Fraaij, P. L. A., De Mutsert, G., Wilks, S. H., Van Beek, R., Fouchier, R. A. M., & Rimmelzwaan, G. F. (2016). Antigenic maps of influenza A(H3N2) produced with human antisera obtained after primary infection. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 213(1), 31–38. https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiv367