Influenza is a highly contagious, acute, febrile respiratory infection that can have fatal consequences particularly in individuals with chronic illnesses. Sporadic reports suggest that intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) may be efficacious in the influenza setting. We investigated the potential of human IVIg to ameliorate influenza infection in ferrets exposed to either the pandemic H1N1/09 virus (pH1N1) or highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1). IVIg administered at the time of influenza virus exposure led to a significant reduction in lung viral load following pH1N1 challenge. In the lethal H5N1 model, the majority of animals given IVIg survived challenge in a dose dependent manner. Protection was also afforded by purified F(ab′)2 but not Fc fragments derived from IVIg, supporting a specific antibody-mediated mechanism of protection. We conclude that pre-pandemic IVIg can modulate serious influenza infection-associated mortality and morbidity. IVIg could be useful prophylactically in the event of a pandemic to protect vulnerable population groups and in the critical care setting as a first stage intervention.
- Intravenous immunoglobulin
- Passive immunotherapy