Experimental H1N1pdm09 infection in pigs mimics human seasonal influenza infections.
Pigs are anatomically, genetically and physiologically comparable to humans and represent a natural host for influenza A virus (IAV) infections. Thus, pigs may represent a relevant biomedical model for human IAV infections. We set out to investigate the systemic as well as the local immune response in pigs upon two subsequent intranasal infections with IAV H1N1pdm09. We detected decreasing numbers of peripheral blood lymphocytes after the first infection. The simultaneous increase in the frequencies of proliferating cells correlated with an increase in infiltrating leukocytes in the lung. Enhanced perforin expression in αβ and γδ T cells in the respiratory tract indicated a cytotoxic T cell response restricted to the route of virus entry such as the nose, the lung and the bronchoalveolar lavage. Simultaneously, increasing frequencies of CD8αα expressing αβ T cells were observed rapidly after the first infection, which may have inhibited uncontrolled inflammation in the respiratory tract. Taking together, the results of this study demonstrate that experimental IAV infection in pigs mimics major characteristics of human seasonal IAV infections.