Influenza neuraminidase as a vaccine antigen

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2015;386:275-99. doi: 10.1007/82_2014_398.


Neuraminidase (NA) is the second most abundant influenza surface glycoprotein and contributes to virus replication in several ways, most notably by removing sialic acids from the host and viral glycoproteins, releasing newly formed virus particles from infected cells. Antibodies that block this enzyme activity restrict virus replication in vitro. This chapter describes foundational epidemiologic and human influenza challenge studies that provide evidence of an association between NA inhibiting antibodies and resistance to disease. Mouse challenge studies show that while NA immunity is infection-permissive, NA-specific antibodies attenuate infection and prevent severe disease. NA immunity is most effective against homologous viruses but there is substantial protection against viruses with a heterologous NA (different lineage within a NA subtype). Monoclonal antibodies specific for conserved antigenic domains of subtype N1 protect against seasonal and pandemic H1N1 as well as H5N1 virus challenge. Clinical studies demonstrate that licensed seasonal vaccines contain immunogenic amounts of NA, but the contribution of this immunity to vaccine efficacy is currently not known. New types of influenza vaccines could be designed to elicit NA immunity. Because NA induces heterologous immunity, it could be an important constituent of universal influenza vaccines that aim to protect against unexpected emerging viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Neuraminidase / chemistry
  • Neuraminidase / immunology*
  • Neuraminidase / physiology
  • Orthomyxoviridae / enzymology*


  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Neuraminidase