BALB/c mice, immunosuppressed from birth with goat anti-mouse IgM, were able to recover from influenza virus infection in the absence of detectable serum and nasal antibody. Recovery was delayed a few days when compared with control animals. Antibody-deficient mice, that had recovered from an initial influenza virus infection, i.e., convalescent mice, were subsequently rechallenged with homologous influenza virus in order to study the importance of nasal and serum antibody in prevention of infection. Convalescent mice were susceptible to reinfection when nasal and serum antibody were not detectable. The mice were resistant to reinfection when serum and/or nasal antibody was detectable by radioimmunoassay. Normal mice that were passively immunized with high titer mouse anti-influenza virus serum were susceptible to challenge with homologous influenza virus. The serum antibody levels in these mice were higher than most of those found in the immune convalescent mice suppressed with anti-IgM, thereby suggesting that the serum antibody, found in convalescent suppressed mice, is not protective. We conclude that 1) mice can recover from influenza virus infection in the absence of detectable levels of nasal and serum antibody, thus indirectly confirming the role of cell-mediated immunity in recovery; 2) serum IgM, IgG2A, IgG2B, IgG3, and probably IgG1 antibody levels are not responsible for protection against influenza virus infection of the upper respiratory tract; and 3) nasal IgA antibody correlates best with protection against reinfection of the upper respiratory tract, but some other locally protective agent cannot be excluded.

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