Avian influenza and sialic acid receptors: more than meets the eye?

Lancet Infect Dis. 2005 Mar;5(3):184-8. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(05)01311-3.


Given our recent discoveries that the ocular human pathogens adenovirus serotype 37 and enterovirus serotype 70 use sialic acid linked to galactose via alpha2,3 glycosidic bonds as a cellular receptor, we propose that the presence of this receptor in the eye also explains the ocular tropism exhibited by zoonotic avian influenza A viruses such as subtype H5N1 in Hong Kong in 1997, H7N7 in the Netherlands in 2003, H7N2 in the USA in 2003, and H7N3 in Canada in 2004. We also draw attention to the implications this hypothesis may have for epizootic and zoonotic influenza, and the initiation of future pandemics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / classification*
  • Adenoviridae / pathogenicity
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Eye Diseases / virology*
  • Humans
  • Influenza in Birds / epidemiology
  • Influenza in Birds / pathology*
  • Influenza in Birds / transmission
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Serotyping
  • Zoonoses / transmission
  • Zoonoses / virology*


  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • sialic acid receptor