Most influenza virus infections are associated with mild disease. One approach to estimate the occurrence of influenza virus infections in individuals is via repeated measurement of humoral antibody titres. We used baseline and convalescent antibody titres measured by haemagglutination inhibition (HI) and viral neutralization (VN) assays against influenza A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and B viruses to investigate the characteristics of antibody rises following virologically confirmed influenza virus infections in participants in a community-based study. Multivariate models were fitted in a Bayesian framework to characterize the distribution of changes in antibody titres following influenza A virus infections. In 122 participants with PCR-confirmed influenza A virus infection, homologous antibody titres rose by geometric means of 1·2- to 10·2-fold after infection with A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and A(H1N1)pdm09. Significant cross-reactions were observed between A(H1N1)pdm09 and seasonal A(H1N1). Antibody titre rises for some subtypes and assays varied by age, receipt of oseltamivir treatment, and recent receipt of influenza vaccination. In conclusion, we provided a quantitative description of the mean and variation in rises in influenza virus antibody titres following influenza virus infection. The multivariate patterns in boosting of antibody titres following influenza virus infection could be taken into account to improve estimates of cumulative incidence of infection in seroepidemiological studies.
Keywords: Antibody; epidemiology; influenza; serology.