Functional role of respiratory tract haemagglutinin-specific IgA antibodies in protection against influenza

Vaccine. 1990 Oct;8(5):479-85. doi: 10.1016/0264-410x(90)90250-p.


Intranasal inoculation of haemagglutinin (HA) purified from influenza virus A/PR/8/34 (PR8, H1N1) together with cholera toxin B subunit, into Balb/c mice resulted in complete protection against PR8 infection in parallel with the induction of high levels of HA-specific IgA and IgG antibodies on the respiratory tract. The respiratory tract IgA and IgG were purified from nasal and lung washings of the immunized mice using affinity columns, and their HA-specific activities were measured by enzyme-linked immunosolvent, plaque neutralization and haemagglutination inhibition assays. The purified IgA and IgG had the following properties: (1) They were able to neutralize virus in vitro. (2) The purified IgA included major antibodies directed against PR8 virus and minor antibodies cross-reactive with A/Yamagata/120/86 (H1N1) or A/Fukuoka/C29/85 (H3N2) virus, while the purified IgG included major antibodies to the homotypic virus, minor antibodies to the H1N1 virus and only a trace amount of antibodies to the H3N2 virus. (3) When separated on a Sephacryl column, most of the IgA anti-HA activities occurred in the polymeric fractions of purified IgA, whereas the IgG anti-HA activities occurred in the monomeric fractions. (4) When passively administered to normal mouse respiratory tract before infection, the purified IgA protected against PR8 infection. These results suggest that HA-specific, polymeric IgA antibodies on the respiratory tract by themselves provide not only protection against the homotypic virus but also higher levels of heterotypic immunity than IgG.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology
  • Cholera Toxin / immunology
  • Cholera Toxin / toxicity
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / immunology*
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin A / isolation & purification
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / isolation & purification
  • Influenza A virus / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / prevention & control*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Cholera Toxin