Understanding host antibody response is crucial for predicting disease severity and for vaccine development. We investigated antibody responses against influenza A(H7N9) virus in 48 serum samples from 21 patients, including paired samples from 15 patients. IgG against subtype H7 and neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) were not detected in acute-phase samples, but ELISA geometric mean titers increased in convalescent-phase samples; NAb titers were 20-80 (geometric mean titer 40). Avidity to IgG against subtype H7 was significantly lower than that against H1 and H3. IgG against H3 was boosted after infection with influenza A(H7N9) virus, and its level in acute-phase samples correlated with that against H7 in convalescent-phase samples. A correlation was also found between hemagglutinin inhibition and NAb titers and between hemagglutinin inhibition and IgG titers against H7. Because of the relatively weak protective antibody response to influenza A(H7N9), multiple vaccinations might be needed to achieve protective immunity.
Keywords: H7N9; antibody responses; avian influenza virus; avidity; hemagglutination inhibition assay; human; influenza; neutralizing antibody; viruses.