Immune Netw.  2015 Oct;15(5):213-221. 10.4110/in.2015.15.5.213.

Mechanisms of Cross-protection by Influenza Virus M2-based Vaccines

  • 1Center for Inflammation, Immunity & Infection, Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.
  • 2Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, Anyang 14089, Korea.


Current influenza virus vaccines are based on strain-specific surface glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA) antigens and effective only when the predicted vaccine strains and circulating viruses are well-matched. The current strategy of influenza vaccination does not prevent the pandemic outbreaks and protection efficacy is reduced or ineffective if mutant strains emerge. It is of high priority to develop effective vaccines and vaccination strategies conferring a broad range of cross protection. The extracellular domain of M2 (M2e) is highly conserved among human influenza A viruses and has been utilized to develop new vaccines inducing cross protection against different subtypes of influenza A virus. However, immune mechanisms of cross protection by M2e-based vaccines still remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we review immune correlates and mechanisms conferring cross protection by M2e-based vaccines. Molecular and cellular immune components that are known to be involved in M2 immune-mediated protection include antibodies, B cells, T cells, alveolar macrophages, Fc receptors, complements, and natural killer cells. Better understanding of protective mechanisms by immune responses induced by M2e vaccination will help facilitate development of broadly cross protective vaccines against influenza A virus.


Influenza virus; M2e; Universal vaccine; Immune mechanism
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