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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 797180, 9 pages
Review Article

Immunogenetic Factors Associated with Severe Respiratory Illness Caused by Zoonotic H1N1 and H5N1 Influenza Viruses

1Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 0J9
2Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 0J9
3Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
4Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 0J9

Received 13 July 2011; Accepted 16 September 2011

Academic Editor: Alfonso J. Rodriguez-Morales

Copyright © 2012 Jennifer Juno et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and ongoing sporadic avian-to-human transmission of H5N1 viruses, an emphasis has been placed on better understanding the determinants and pathogenesis of severe influenza infections. Much of the current literature has focused on viral genetics and its impact on host immunity as well as novel risk factors for severe infection (particularly within the H1N1 pandemic). An understanding of the host genetic determinants of susceptibility and severe respiratory illness, however, is currently lacking. By better defining the role of genetic variability in influenza infection and identifying key polymorphisms that impair the host immune response or correlate with protection, we will be able to better identify at-risk populations and new targets for therapeutic interventions and vaccines. This paper will summarize known immunogenetic factors associated with susceptibility or severity of both pH1N1 and H5N1 infections and will also identify genetic pathways and polymorphisms of high relevance for future study.