Estimation of seroprevalence of the pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza virus using a novel virus-free ELISA assay for the detection of specific antibodies.

Research paper by Maria D MD Mavrouli, John G JG Routsias, Helena C HC Maltezou, Nicholas N Spanakis, Athanassios A Tsakris

Indexed on: 15 Jun '11Published on: 15 Jun '11Published in: Viral immunology


The pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza A emerged in April 2009 and spread rapidly all over the world. In Greece, the first case of the pandemic H1N1 was reported on May 18, 2009, while a considerable increase in the number of cases was noticed at the beginning of July 2009. The need for surveillance of the immune status of the Greek population led us to develop a virus-free ELISA that specifically recognizes pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza virus antibodies in human sera. The method is based on the use of synthetic peptides (H1-pep and N1-pep) that are derived from the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase of the 2009 pandemic strain, respectively, and differentiate the swine-origin influenza A/California/14/2009 (H1N1) from the seasonal influenza A viruses. Serum samples were obtained from 271 healthy blood donors during May, November, and December 2009. Among sera collected during May, November, and December, IgG antibodies against the peptide H1-pep were detected in 7.4, 13.8, and 19.3% of the donors, respectively, while IgG antibodies against the peptide N1-pep were detected in 5.3, 9.6, and 16.9% of the donors, respectively. The application of the immunoassay indicated a time-dependent increase of the prevalence of anti-H1-pep and anti-N1-pep IgG antibodies during the pandemic H1N1 outbreak in Greece. The method could be also indicative for the discrimination of immune persons from those susceptible to infection with the pandemic H1N1 strain, as well as for the establishment of effective vaccination programs.