Immunization with virus-like particles of enterovirus 71 elicits potent immune responses and protects mice against lethal challenge

Yao-Chi Chung, Mei-Shang Ho, Jaw-Chin Wu, Wei-Jheng Chen, Jen-Huang Huang, Szu-Ting Chou, Yu-Chen Hu
Vaccine 2008 March 28, 26 (15): 1855-62
Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is an etiologic agent responsible for seasonal epidemics of hand-foot-and-mouth disease and causes outbreaks with significant mortality among young children. To develop the vaccine, we have produced and purified the EV71 virus-like particle (VLP) that resembles the authentic virus in appearance, capsid structure and protein composition. In this study, we further evaluated the potential of VLP as a vaccine by comparing the humoral and cellular immune responses elicited by the purified VLP, denatured VLP and heat-inactivated EV71 virus. After immunization of BALB/c mice, EV71 VLP induced potent and long-lasting humoral immune responses as evidenced by the high total IgG titer and neutralization titer. The splenocytes collected from the VLP-immunized mice exhibited significant cell proliferation and produced high levels of IFN-gamma, IL-2 and IL-4 after stimulation, indicating the induction of Th1 and Th2 immune responses by VLP immunization. More importantly, the VLP immunization of mother mice conferred protection (survival rate up to 89%) to neonatal mice against the lethal (1000 LD(50)) viral challenge. Compared with the VLP immunization, immunization with denatured VLP and heat-inactivated EV71 elicited lower neutralization titers and conferred less effective protection to newborn mice, although they induced comparable levels of total IgG and cellular immune responses. These data collectively indicate the importance of the preservation of VLP structure and implicate the potential of VLP as a vaccine to prevent EV71 infection.

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