Measuring Cellular Immunity to Influenza: Methods of Detection, Applications and Challenges.
Coughlan L., Lambe T.
Influenza A virus is a respiratory pathogen which causes both seasonal epidemics and occasional pandemics; infection continues to be a significant cause of mortality worldwide. Current influenza vaccines principally stimulate humoral immune responses that are largely directed towards the variant surface antigens of influenza. Vaccination can result in an effective, albeit strain-specific antibody response and there is a need for vaccines that can provide superior, long-lasting immunity to influenza. Vaccination approaches targeting conserved viral antigens have the potential to provide broadly cross-reactive, heterosubtypic immunity to diverse influenza viruses. However, the field lacks consensus on the correlates of protection for cellular immunity in reducing severe influenza infection, transmission or disease outcome. Furthermore, unlike serological methods such as the standardized haemagglutination inhibition assay, there remains a large degree of variation in both the types of assays and method of reporting cellular outputs. T-cell directed immunity has long been known to play a role in ameliorating the severity and/or duration of influenza infection, but the precise phenotype, magnitude and longevity of the requisite protective response is unclear. In order to progress the development of universal influenza vaccines, it is critical to standardize assays across sites to facilitate direct comparisons between clinical trials.