Broadly neutralizing anti-influenza virus antibodies: Enhancement of neutralizing potency in polyclonal mixtures and IgA backbones

Wenqian He, Caitlin E. Mullarkey, J. Andrew Duty, Thomas M. Moran, Peter Palese, Matthew S. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Current influenza virus vaccines rely upon the accurate prediction of circulating virus strains months in advance of the actual influenza season in order to allow time for vaccine manufacture. Unfortunately, mismatches occur frequently, and even when perfect matches are achieved, suboptimal vaccine efficacy leaves several high-risk populations vulnerable to infection. However, the recent discovery of broadly neutralizing antibodies that target the hemagglutinin (HA) stalk domain has renewed hope that the development of "universal" influenza virus vaccines may be within reach. Here, we examine the functions of influenza A virus hemagglutinin stalk-binding antibodies in an endogenous setting, i.e., as polyclonal preparations isolated from human sera. Relative to monoclonal antibodies that bind to the HA head domain, the neutralization potency of monoclonal stalk-binding antibodies was vastly inferior in vitro but was enhanced by several orders of magnitude in the polyclonal context. Furthermore, we demonstrated a surprising enhancement in IgA-mediated HA stalk neutralization relative to that achieved by antibodies of IgG isotypes. Mechanistically, this could be explained in two ways. Identical variable regions consistently neutralized virus more potently when in an IgA backbone compared to an IgG backbone. In addition, HA-specific memory B cells isolated from human peripheral blood were more likely to be stalk specific when secreting antibodies of IgA isotypes compared to those secreting IgG. Taken together, our data provide strong evidence that HA stalk-binding antibodies perform optimally when in a polyclonal context and that the targeted elicitation of HA stalk-specific IgA should be an important consideration during "universal" influenza virus vaccine design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3610-3618
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2015


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