Resistance to infection with an influenza A virus conferred by previous infection with an influenza A virus belonging to another subtype is called heterosubtypic immunity. Heterosubtypic immunity is demonstrable in laboratory animals but is believed to be weak in humans. The present study examined whether heterosubtypic immunity from previous influenza virus infection induced resistance to infection with an attenuated influenza A vaccine virus. Two groups of vaccinees consisting of young infants and children who received either influenza A H1N1 or H3N2 attenuated virus were studied. Influenza A H3N2 virus vaccine recipients were classified by their preexisting H1N1 heterosubtypic antibody level induced by prior infection with wild-type virus, and the H1N1 vaccinees were classified by their history of infection with H3N2 vaccine virus. For both groups of vaccinees, the rates of seroconversion and virus shedding and the level of vaccine virus replication were compared in subjects with and without heterosubtypic immunity. In 48 influenza A H3N2 virus and 39 H1N1 virus vaccinees, heterosubtypic immunity had no demonstrable effect on infectivity, immunogenicity, or replication of attenuated vaccine virus. These observations confirm the weak nature of heterosubtypic immunity in humans and suggest that it will not limit the utility of live attenuated influenza A viruses in young infants and children
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