Evidence for Viral Interference and Cross-reactive Protective Immunity Between Influenza B Virus Lineages

J Infect Dis. 2018 Jan 30;217(4):548-559. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix509.


Background: Two influenza B virus lineages, B/Victoria and B/Yamagata, cocirculate in the human population. While the lineages are serologically distinct, cross-reactive responses to both lineages have been detected. Viral interference describes the situation whereby infection with one virus limits infection and replication of a second virus. We investigated the potential for viral interference between the influenza B virus lineages.

Methods: Ferrets were infected and then challenged 3, 10, or 28 days later with pairs of influenza B/Victoria and B/Yamagata viruses.

Results: Viral interference occurred at challenge intervals of 3 and 10 days and occasionally at 28 days. At the longer interval, shedding of challenge virus was reduced, and this correlated with cross-reactive interferon γ responses from lymph nodes from virus-infected animals. Viruses from both lineages could prevent or significantly limit subsequent infection with a virus from the other lineage. Coinfections were rare, indicating the potential for reassortment between lineages is limited.

Conclusions: These data suggest that innate and cross-reactive immunity mediate viral interference and that this may contribute to the dominance of a specific influenza B virus lineage in any given influenza season. Furthermore, infection with one influenza B virus lineage may be beneficial in protecting against subsequent infection with either influenza B virus lineage.

Keywords: Viral interference; cross-protection; dominance; ferret; influenza; influenza B; lineage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cross Protection*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ferrets
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Influenza B virus / immunology*
  • Influenza B virus / physiology*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Viral Interference*