Normal guinea-pig serum (GPS) lacking detectable antiviral antibody efficiently neutralized the infectivity of influenza B virus grown in chick embryos or MDCK cells. The inhibitor was heat-labile and sensitive to trypsin digestion. This β-like inhibitor required Ca and the complement components C1 and C4 for its activity. In contrast, GPS did not inactivate influenza A virus. Influenza B virus from which the neuraminidase activity of the spikes on the viral envelope had been eliminated by trypsin digestion was also inactivated to a level comparable to untreated virus. Complement component C1 alone bound directly to influenza B virus and inhibited its haemagglutinin activity. We suggest that the β-like inhibitor in GPS is a component of the classical complement pathway which is triggered by the protein moiety of influenza B virus haemagglutinin, leading to virus neutralization.


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