Understanding antigenic variation in influenza virus strains and how the human immune system recognizes strains are central challenges for vaccinologists. Antibodies directed to the 2 major viral surface membrane proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), mediate protection against reinfection following natural infection or vaccination, but HA and NA protein sequences in field strains are highly variable. The central questions are how to achieve protective antibody responses in a higher proportion of individuals and how to induce responses with more breadth and durability. Studies using isolation of human monoclonal antibodies followed by structural and functional characterization revealed conserved antigenic sites recognized by broadly cross-reactive antibodies. The antigenic landscape on HA and NA proteins is coming into focus to inform studies of the correlates and mechanisms of immunity. Understanding the antibody determinants of influenza immunity points the way toward development and testing of next-generation vaccines with potential to confer broadly protective immunity.
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