Rapid expansion of CD8+ T cells in wild-type and type I interferon receptor-deficient mice correlates with protection after low-dose emergency immunization with modified vaccinia virus Ankara.

Research paper by Asisa A Volz, Martin M Langenmayer, Sylvia S Jany, Ulrich U Kalinke, Gerd G Sutter

Indexed on: 11 Jul '14Published on: 11 Jul '14Published in: Journal of virology


Immunization with modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) can rapidly protect mice against lethal ectromelia virus (ECTV) infection, serving as an experimental model for severe systemic infections. Importantly, this early protective capacity of MVA vaccination completely depends on virus-specific cytotoxic CD8(+) T cell responses. We used MVA vaccination in the mousepox challenge model using ECTV infection to investigate the previously unknown factors required to elicit rapid protective T cell immunity in normal C57BL/6 mice and in mice lacking the interferon alpha/beta receptor (IFNAR(-/-)). We found a minimal dose of 10(5) PFU of MVA vaccine fully sufficient to allow robust protection against lethal mousepox, as assessed by the absence of disease symptoms and failure to detect ECTV in organs from vaccinated animals. Moreover, MVA immunization at low dosage also protected IFNAR(-/-) mice, indicating efficient activation of cellular immunity even in the absence of type I interferon signaling. When monitoring for virus-specific CD8(+) T cell responses in mice vaccinated with the minimal protective dose of MVA, we found significantly enhanced levels of antigen-specific T cells in animals that were MVA vaccinated and ECTV challenged compared to mice that were only vaccinated. The initial priming of naive CD8(+) T cells by MVA immunization appears to be highly efficient and, even at low doses, mediates a rapid in vivo burst of pathogen-specific T cells upon challenge. Our findings define striking requirements for protective emergency immunization against severe systemic infections with orthopoxviruses.We demonstrate that single-shot low-dose immunizations with vaccinia virus MVA can rapidly induce T cell-mediated protective immunity against lethal orthopoxvirus infections. Our data provide new evidence for an efficient protective capacity of vaccination with replication-deficient MVA. These data are of important practical relevance for public health, as the effectiveness of a safety-tested, next-generation smallpox vaccine based on MVA is still debated. Furthermore, producing sufficient amounts of vaccine is expected to be a major challenge should an outbreak occur. Moreover, prevention of other infections may require rapidly protective immunization; hence, MVA could be an extremely useful vaccine for delivering heterologous T cell antigens, particularly for infectious diseases that fit a scenario of emergency vaccination.

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