Influenza viruses remain a major threat to global health due to their ability to undergo change through antigenic drift and antigenic shift. We postulated that avian IgY antibodies represent a low-cost, effective, and well-tolerated approach that can easily be scaled up to produce enormous quantities of protective antibodies. These IgY antibodies can be administered passively in humans (orally and intranasally) and can be used quickly and safely to help in the fight against an influenza pandemic. In this study, we raised IgY antibodies against H1N1, H3N2, and H5N1 influenza viruses. We demonstrated that, using whole inactivated viruses alone and in combination to immunize hens, we were able to induce a high level of anti-influenza virus IgY in the sera and eggs, which lasted for at least 2 months after two immunizations. Furthermore, we found that by use of in vitro assays to test for the ability of IgY to inhibit hemagglutination (HI test) and virus infectivity (serum neutralization test), IgYs inhibited the homologous as well as in some cases heterologous clades and strains of viruses. Using an in vivo mouse model system, we found that, when administered intranasally 1 h prior to infection, IgY to H5N1 protected 100% of the mice against lethal challenge with H5N1. Of particular interest was the finding that IgY to H5N1 cross-protected against A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (H1N1) both in vitro and in vivo. Based on our results, we conclude that anti-influenza virus IgY can be used to help prevent influenza virus infection.
2011. Vol. 18, no 7, 1083-1090 p.