Influenza A 2009 H1N1

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Prasert Auewarakul


Although most cases of influenza A 2009 H1N1 were mild and self-limited, many

cases developed severe pneumonia leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

and death. It is not clear what determined the disease severity in these cases. Host factors

including pregnancy, obesity, and chronic illnesses are certainly contributing factors, but

other unknown host and viral factors may also play pivotal roles. The pandemic influenza A

2009 H1N1 virus has been shown to induce more severe lung pathology in ferrets and

monkeys than seasonal influenza viruses. This may be a result of receptor-binding property

of the virus, as the pandemic virus binds not only to α2,6-linked sialic acid, expressed mainly

in upper airway, but also with a lower affinity to α2,3-linked sialic acid, expressed in alveoli.

The ability of this virus to infect alveolar epithelial cells may play a crucial role in

pneumonia and ARDS. On the other hand, evidences are pointing to host innate responses as

major determinants of disease outcome. Therapeutic approaches aiming at modifying innate

inflammatory responses have been proposed but not yet fully explored. Both mechanistic

studies and clinical trials addressing these alternative treatments are needed for a better

pandemic influenza preparedness.

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2010 Annual Meeting Abstracts/Lectures