The neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir is currently used for treatment of patients infected with the pandemic A/H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza virus, although drug-resistant mutants can emerge rapidly and possibly be transmitted. We describe the characteristics of a pair of oseltamivir-resistant and oseltamivir-susceptible pH1N1 clinical isolates that differed by a single change (H274Y) in the neuraminidase protein. Viral fitness of pH1N1 isolates was assessed in vitro by determining replication kinetics in MDCK a2,6 cells and in vivo by performing experimental infections of BALB/c mice and ferrets. Despite slightly reduced propagation of the mutant isolate in vitro during the first 24 h, the wild-type (WT) and mutant resistant viruses induced similar maximum weight loss in mice and ferrets with an identical pyrexic response in ferrets (AUC of 233.9 and 233.2, P = 0.5156). Similarly, comparable titers were obtained for the WT and the mutant strains on days 1, 3, 6 and 9 post-infection in mouse lungs and on days 1-7 in ferret nasal washes. A more important perivascular (day 6) and pleural (days 6 and 12) inflammation was noted in the lungs of mice infected with the H274Y mutant, which correlated with increased pulmonary levels of IL-6 and KC. Such increased levels of IL-6 were also observed in lymph nodes of ferrets infected with the mutant strain. Furthermore, the H274Y mutant strain was transmitted to ferrets. In conclusion, viral fitness of the H274Y pH1N1 isolate is not substantially altered and has the potential to induce severe disease and to disseminate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology