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BACKGROUND: The cause of severe disease in some patients infected with pandemic influenza A virus is unclear. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We present the cellular immunology profile in the blood, and detailed clinical (and post-mortem) findings of three patients with rapidly progressive infection, including a pregnant patient who died. The striking finding is of reduction in natural killer (NK) cells but preservation of activated effector CD8 T lymphocytes; with viraemia in the patient who had no NK cells. Comparison with control groups suggests that the reduction of NK cells is unique to these severely ill patients. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Our report shows markedly reduced NK cells in the three patients that we sampled and raises the hypothesis that NK may have a more significant role than T lymphocytes in controlling viral burden when the host is confronted with a new influenza A virus subtype.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0010675

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

18/05/2010

Volume

5

Keywords

Adult, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Fatal Outcome, Female, Freezing, Health, Humans, Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype, Influenza, Human, Killer Cells, Natural, Lung, Male, Middle Aged, Postmortem Changes, Pregnancy, RNA, Viral, Radiography, Thoracic, Young Adult