Gastrointestinal delivery of baculovirus displaying influenza virus hemagglutinin protects mice against heterologous H5N1 infection

Mookkan Prabakaran, Selvaraj Madhan, Nayana Prabhu, Jia Qiang, Jimmy Kwang
Journal of Virology 2010, 84 (7): 3201-9
The recent outbreaks of influenza A H5N1 virus in birds and humans have necessitated the development of potent H5N1 vaccines. In this study, we evaluated the protective potential of an immediate-early promoter-based baculovirus displaying hemagglutinin (BacHA) against highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus infection in a mouse model. Gastrointestinal delivery of BacHA significantly enhanced the systemic immune response in terms of HA-specific serum IgG and hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers. In addition, BacHA vaccine was able to significantly enhance the mucosal IgA level. The inclusion of recombinant cholera toxin B subunit as a mucosal adjuvant along with BacHA vaccine did not influence either the systemic or mucosal immunity. Interestingly, an inactivated form of BacHA was able to induce only a negligible level of immune responses compared to its live counterpart. Microneutralization assay also indicated that live BacHA vaccine was able to induce strong cross-clade neutralization against heterologous H5N1 strains (clade 1.0, clade 2.1, and clade 8.0) compared to the inactivated BacHA. Viral challenge studies showed that live BacHA was able to provide 100% protection against 5 50% mouse lethal doses (MLD(50)) of homologous (clade 2.1) and heterologous (clade 1) H5N1. Moreover, histopathological examinations revealed that mice vaccinated with live BacHA had only minimal bronchitis in lungs and regained their body weight more rapidly postchallenge. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry results demonstrated that the live BacHA was able to transduce and express HA in the intestinal epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo. We have demonstrated that recombinant baculovirus with a white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) immediate-early promoter 1 (ie1) acted as a vector as well as a protein vaccine and will enable the rapid production of prepandemic and pandemic vaccines without any biosafety concerns.

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