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PloS one

Influenza vaccination accelerates recovery of ferrets from lymphopenia.


PMID 24968319

Abstract

Ferrets are a useful animal model for human influenza virus infections, since they closely mimic the pathogenesis of influenza viruses observed in humans. However, a lack of reagents, especially for flow cytometry of immune cell subsets, has limited research in this model. Here we use a panel of primarily species cross-reactive antibodies to identify ferret T cells, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), B cells, and granulocytes in peripheral blood. Following infection with seasonal H3N2 or H1N1pdm09 influenza viruses, these cell types showed rapid and dramatic changes in frequency, even though clinically the infections were mild. The loss of B cells and CD4 and CD8 T cells, and the increase in neutrophils, were especially marked 1-2 days after infection, when about 90% of CD8+ T cells disappeared from the peripheral blood. The different virus strains led to different kinetics of leukocyte subset alterations. Vaccination with homologous vaccine reduced clinical symptoms slightly, but led to a much more rapid return to normal leukocyte parameters. Assessment of clinical symptoms may underestimate the effectiveness of influenza vaccine in restoring homeostasis.