Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

An effective universal vaccine for influenza will likely need to induce virus-specific T-cells, which are the major mediator of heterosubtypic cross-protection between different subtypes of influenza A virus. In this study we characterise the cell-mediated immune response in ferrets during heterosubtypic protection induced by low-dose H1N1 virus infection against an H3N2 virus challenge, given 4 weeks later. Although the ferrets were not protected against the infection by H3N2 virus, the duration of virus shedding was shortened, and clinical disease was markedly reduced. No cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies were detected, but cross-reactive interferon-gamma-secreting T cells were detected in the circulation prior to H3N2 challenge. These T-cells peaked at 11 days post-H1N1 infection, and were strongly induced in blood and in lung following H3N2 infection. The rapid induction of interferon-gamma-secreting cells in ferrets previously infected with H1N1 virus, but not in naïve ferrets, suggests induction of memory T-cells. These results are in accord with the observations that pre-existing cross-reactive T-cells correlate with protection in humans and have implications for outbreak modelling and universal vaccine design.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





National Infection Service, Public Health England, Porton Down, SP4 0JG, United Kingdom.


Lymphocytes, Animals, Dogs, Ferrets, Orthomyxoviridae Infections, Disease Models, Animal, Inflammation, Cell Count, Antibody Formation, Cross Reactions, Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic, Female, Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype, Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype, Interferon-gamma, Immunity, Humoral, Cross Protection, Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells