A multisystem approach was used to assess the efficiency of several methods for inactivation of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) vaccine candidates. A combination of diverse assays (plaque, in vitro cytopathology and mouse neurovirulence) was used to verify virus inactivation, along with the use of a specific ELISA to measure retention of VEEV envelope glycoprotein epitopes in the development of several inactivated VEEV candidate vaccines derived from an attenuated strain of VEEV (V3526). Incubation of V3526 aliquots at temperatures in excess of 64°C for periods >30 minutes inactivated the virus, but substantially reduced VEEV specific monoclonal antibody binding of the inactivated material. In contrast, V3526 treated either with formalin at concentrations of 0.1% or 0.5% v/v for 4 or 24 hours, or irradiated with 50 kilogray gamma radiation rendered the virus non-infectious while retaining significant levels of monoclonal antibody binding. Loss of infectivity of both the formalin inactivated (fV3526) and gamma irradiated (gV3526) preparations was confirmed via five successive blind passages on BHK-21 cells. Similarly, loss of neurovirulence for fV3526 and gV3526 was demonstrated via intracerebral inoculation of suckling BALB/c mice. Excellent protection against subcutaneous challenge with VEEV IA/B Trinidad donkey strain was demonstrated using a two dose immunization regimen with either fV3526 or gV3526. The combination of in vitro and in vivo assays provides a practical approach to optimize manufacturing process parameters for development of other inactivated viral vaccines.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV); Formalin inactivated vaccines; Gamma irradiated vaccines; Neurovirulence; Alphavirus
Ebola virus (EBOV) causes acute hemorrhagic fever that is fatal in up to 90% of cases in both humans and nonhuman primates. No vaccines or treatments are available for human use. We evaluated the effects in nonhuman primates of vaccine strategies that had protected mice or guinea pigs from lethal EBOV infection. The following immunogens were used: RNA replicon particles derived from an attenuated strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) expressing EBOV glycoprotein and nucleoprotein; recombinant Vaccinia virus expressing EBOV glycoprotein; liposomes containing lipid A and inactivated EBOV; and a concentrated, inactivated whole-virion preparation. None of these strategies successfully protected nonhuman primates from robust challenge with EBOV. The disease observed in primates differed from that in rodents, suggesting that rodent models of EBOV may not predict the efficacy of candidate vaccines in primates and that protection of primates may require different mechanisms.
Keywords: Ebola; macaque; vaccine; Vaccinia virus; replicon
The live-attenuated TC-83 strain is the only licensed veterinary vaccine available to protect equids against Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) and to protect humans indirectly by preventing equine amplification. However, TC-83 is reactogenic due to its reliance on only two attenuating point mutations and has infected mosquitoes following equine vaccination. To increase its stability and safety, a recombinant TC-83 was previously engineered by placing the expression of the viral structural proteins under the control of the Internal Ribosome Entry Site (IRES) of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), which drives translation inefficiently in insect cells. However, this vaccine candidate was poorly immunogenic. Here we describe a second generation of the recombinant TC-83 in which the subgenomic promoter is maintained and only the capsid protein gene is translated from the IRES. This VEEV/IRES/C vaccine candidate did not infect mosquitoes, was stable in its attenuation phenotype after serial murine passages, and was more attenuated in newborn mice but still as protective as TC-83 against VEEV challenge. Thus, by using the IRES to modulate TC-83 capsid protein expression, we generated a vaccine candidate that combines efficient immunogenicity and efficacy with lower virulence and a reduced potential for spread in nature.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is transmitted by mosquitoes and widely distributed in Central and South America, causing regular outbreaks in horses and humans. Often misdiagnosed as dengue, VEEV infection in humans can lead to lifelong neurological sequelae and is fatal in up to >80% of equine cases, representing a significant socio-economic burden and constant public health threats for developing countries of Latin America. The only available vaccine, the live-attenuated TC-83 strain, is restricted to veterinary use due to its high reactogenicity in humans and risk for reversion to virulence, which could initiate an epidemic. By using an attenuation approach that allows the modulation of the virus capsid protein expression, we generated a new version of TC-83 that is more attenuated but still induces a protective immune response in mice. Additionally, this new vaccine cannot infect mosquitoes, which prevents the risk of spreading in nature. The attenuation approach we describe can be applied to a lot of other alphaviruses to develop vaccines against diseases regularly emerging and threatening developing countries.
The greatest risk from live-attenuated vaccines is reversion to virulence. Particular concerns arise for RNA viruses, which exhibit high mutation frequencies. We examined the stability of 3 attenuation strategies for the alphavirus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV): a traditional, point mutation-dependent attenuation approach exemplified by TC-83; a rationally designed, targeted-mutation approach represented by V3526; and a chimeric vaccine, SIN/TC/ZPC. Our findings suggest that the chimeric strain combines the initial attenuation of TC-83 with the greater phenotypic stability of V3526, highlighting the importance of the both initial attenuation and stability for live-attenuated vaccines.
vaccine stability; RNA viruses; alphavirus; Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is a positive-strand RNA Alphavirus endemic in Central and South America, and the causative agent of fatal encephalitis in humans. In an effort to better understand the mechanisms of infection, including differences between people who produce a neutralizing antibody response to the vaccine and those who do not, we performed whole genome transcriptional analysis in human PBMCs exposed in vitro to the live-attenuated vaccine strain of VEEV, TC-83. We compared the molecular responses in cells from three groups of individuals: naïve; previously vaccinated individuals who developed a neutralizing antibody response to the vaccine (responders); and those who did not develop a neutralizing antibody response to the vaccine (nonresponders). Overall, the changes in gene expression were more intense for the naïve group after TC-83 challenge and least potent in the nonresponder group. The main canonical pathways revealed the involvement of interferon and interferon-induced pathways, as well as toll-like receptors TLR- and interleukin (IL)-12-related pathways. HLA class II genotype and suppression of transcript expression for TLR2, TLR4 and TLR8 in the nonresponder group may help explain the lack of vaccine response in this study group. Because TL3 and TLR7 transcripts were elevated in all study groups, these factors may be indicators of the infection and not the immunological state of the individuals. Biomarkers were identified that differentiate between the vaccine responder and the vaccine nonresponder groups. The identified biomarkers were contrasted against transcripts that were unique to the naïve population alone upon induction with TC-83. Biomarker analysis allowed for the discernment between the naïve (innate) responses; the responder (recall) responses; and the nonresponder (alternative) changes to gene transcription that were caused by infection with TC-83. The study also points to the existence of HLA haplotypes that may discriminate between vaccine low- and high-responder phenotypes.
biomarkers; gene expression; microarray; neutralizing antibody; vaccination; vaccine responder; Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is an important, naturally emerging zoonotic pathogen. Recent outbreaks in Venezuela and Colombia in 1995, involving an estimated 100,000 human cases, indicate that VEEV still poses a serious public health threat. To develop a safe, efficient vaccine that protects against disease resulting from VEEV infection, we generated chimeric Sindbis (SIN) viruses expressing structural proteins of different strains of VEEV and analyzed their replication in vitro and in vivo, as well as the characteristics of the induced immune responses. None of the chimeric SIN/VEE viruses caused any detectable disease in adult mice after either intracerebral (i.c.) or subcutaneous (s.c.) inoculation, and all chimeras were more attenuated than the vaccine strain, VEEV TC83, in 6-day-old mice after i.c. infection. All vaccinated mice were protected against lethal encephalitis following i.c., s.c., or intranasal (i.n.) challenge with the virulent VEEV ZPC738 strain (ZPC738). In spite of the absence of clinical encephalitis in vaccinated mice challenged with ZPC738 via i.n. or i.c. route, we regularly detected high levels of infectious challenge virus in the central nervous system (CNS). However, infectious virus was undetectable in the brains of all immunized animals at 28 days after challenge. Hamsters vaccinated with chimeric SIN/VEE viruses were also protected against s.c. challenge with ZPC738. Taken together, our findings suggest that these chimeric SIN/VEE viruses are safe and efficacious in adult mice and hamsters and are potentially useful as VEEV vaccines. In addition, immunized animals provide a useful model for studying the mechanisms of the anti-VEEV neuroinflammatory response, leading to the reduction of viral titers in the CNS and survival of animals.
We evaluated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a DNA vaccine expressing codon-optimized envelope glycoprotein genes of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) when delivered by intramuscular electroporation. Mice vaccinated with the DNA vaccine developed robust VEEV-neutralizing antibody responses that were comparable to those observed after administration of the live-attenuated VEEV vaccine TC-83 and were completely protected from a lethal aerosol VEEV challenge. The DNA vaccine also elicited strong neutralizing antibody responses in rabbits that persisted at high levels for at least 6 months and could be boosted by a single additional electroporation administration of the DNA performed approximately 6 months after the initial vaccinations. Cynomolgus macaques that received the vaccine by intramuscular electroporation developed substantial neutralizing antibody responses and after an aerosol challenge had no detectable serum viremia and had reduced febrile reactions, lymphopenia, and clinical signs of disease compared to those of negative-control macaques. Taken together, our results demonstrate that this DNA vaccine provides a potent means of protecting against VEEV infections and represents an attractive candidate for further development.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is an important, naturally emerging zoonotic virus. VEEV was a significant human and equine pathogen for much of the past century, and recent outbreaks in Venezuela and Colombia (1995), with about 100,000 human cases, indicate that this virus still poses a serious public health threat. The live attenuated TC-83 vaccine strain of VEEV was developed in the 1960s using a traditional approach of serial passaging in tissue culture of the virulent Trinidad donkey (TrD) strain. This vaccine presents several problems, including adverse, sometimes severe reactions in many human vaccinees. The TC-83 strain also retains residual murine virulence and is lethal for suckling mice after intracerebral (i.c.) or subcutaneous (s.c.) inoculation. To overcome these negative effects, we developed a recombinant, chimeric Sindbis/VEE virus (SIN-83) that is more highly attenuated. The genome of this virus encoded the replicative enzymes and the cis-acting RNA elements derived from Sindbis virus (SINV), one of the least human-pathogenic alphaviruses. The structural proteins were derived from VEEV TC-83. The SIN-83 virus, which contained an additional adaptive mutation in the nsP2 gene, replicated efficiently in common cell lines and did not cause detectable disease in adult or suckling mice after either i.c. or s.c. inoculation. However, SIN-83-vaccinated mice were efficiently protected against challenge with pathogenic strains of VEEV. Our findings suggest that the use of the SINV genome as a vector for expression of structural proteins derived from more pathogenic, encephalitic alphaviruses is a promising strategy for alphavirus vaccine development.
There is currently a requirement for antiviral therapies capable of protecting against infection with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), as a licensed vaccine is not available for general human use. Monoclonal antibodies are increasingly being developed as therapeutics and are potential treatments for VEEV as they have been shown to be protective in the mouse model of disease. However, to be truly effective, the antibody should recognise multiple strains of VEEV and broadly reactive monoclonal antibodies are rarely and only coincidentally isolated using classical hybridoma technology.
In this work, methods were developed to reliably derive broadly reactive murine antibodies. A phage library was created that expressed single chain variable fragments (scFv) isolated from mice immunised with multiple strains of VEEV. A broadly reactive scFv was identified and incorporated into a murine IgG2a framework. This novel antibody retained the broad reactivity exhibited by the scFv but did not possess virus neutralising activity. However, the antibody was still able to protect mice against VEEV disease induced by strain TrD when administered 24 h prior to challenge.
A monoclonal antibody possessing reactivity to a wide range of VEEV strains may be of benefit as a generic antiviral therapy. However, humanisation of the murine antibody will be required before it can be tested in humans.
Crown Copyright © 2009
4.4 Å cryo-EM structure of an enveloped alphavirus Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus
This study uses high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy to provide a complete structural model of the VEEV alphavirus, bridging the gap between incomplete crystal structures and lower resolution electron microscopy analyses.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), a member of the membrane-containing Alphavirus genus, is a human and equine pathogen, and has been developed as a biological weapon. Using electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM), we determined the structure of an attenuated vaccine strain, TC-83, of VEEV to 4.4 Å resolution. Our density map clearly resolves regions (including E1, E2 transmembrane helices and cytoplasmic tails) that were missing in the crystal structures of domains of alphavirus subunits. These new features are implicated in the fusion, assembly and budding processes of alphaviruses. Furthermore, our map reveals the unexpected E3 protein, which is cleaved and generally thought to be absent in the mature VEEV. Our structural results suggest a mechanism for the initial stage of nucleocapsid core formation, and shed light on the virulence attenuation, host recognition and neutralizing activities of VEEV and other alphavirus pathogens.
alphavirus; bioweapon; cryo-EM; modelling; VEEV
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging, mosquito-borne alphavirus that has caused major epidemics in Africa and Asia. We developed chimeric vaccine candidates using the non-structural protein genes of either Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) attenuated vaccine strain TC-83 or a naturally attenuated strain of eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and the structural genes of CHIKV. Because the transmission of genetically modified live vaccine strains is undesirable because of the potentially unpredictable evolution of these viruses as well as the potential for reversion, we evaluated the ability of these vaccines to infect the urban CHIKV vectors, Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Both vaccine candidates exhibited significantly lower infection and dissemination rates compared with the parent alphaviruses. Intrathoracic inoculations indicated that reduced infectivity was mediated by midgut infection barriers in both species. These results indicate a low potential for transmission of these vaccine strains in the event that a vaccinee became viremic.
Various features of salmonellosis were examined in a burned-mouse model. In this model, which uses an outbred mouse strain, a challenge dose of ca. 100 CFU with any of several strains of Salmonella typhimurium caused a fatal infection. A variety of mutated strains attenuated for virulence in Salmonella-susceptible parenterally infected mice were also attenuated in the burned-mouse model. When administered as live vaccines injected intraperitoneally the same attenuated strains provided between slight and complete protection against subsequent lethal challenge subcutaneously at the site of a burn. The correspondence of results obtained in the burned-mouse model with those seen in other mouse models coupled with the unique advantages of the burned-mouse model argue for the usefulness of the model in studies of salmonellosis and in testing of strains constructed for use as live vaccines.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is one of the most pathogenic members of the Alphavirus genus in the Togaviridae family. Viruses in the VEEV serocomplex continuously circulate in the Central and South Americas. The only currently available attenuated strain VEEV TC-83 is being used only for vaccination of at-risk laboratory workers and military personnel. Its attenuated phenotype was shown to rely only on two point mutations, one of which, G3A, was found in the 5′ untranslated region (5′UTR) of the viral genome. Our data demonstrate that the G3A mutation strongly affects the secondary structure of VEEV 5′UTR, but has only a minor effect on translation. The indicated mutation increases replication of the viral genome, downregulates transcription of the subgenomic RNA, and, thus, affects the ratio of genomic and subgenomic RNA synthesis. These findings and the previously reported G3A-induced, higher sensitivity of VEEV TC-83 to IFN-α/β suggest a plausible explanation for its attenuated phenotype.
Optimisation of genes has been shown to be beneficial for expression of proteins in a range of applications. Optimisation has increased protein expression levels through improved codon usage of the genes and an increase in levels of messenger RNA. We have applied this to an adenovirus (ad)-based vaccine encoding structural proteins (E3-E2-6K) of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV).
Following administration of this vaccine to Balb/c mice, an approximately ten-fold increase in antibody response was elicited and increased protective efficacy compared to an ad-based vaccine containing non-optimised genes was observed after challenge.
This study, in which the utility of optimising genes encoding the structural proteins of VEEV is demonstrated for the first time, informs us that including optimised genes in gene-based vaccines for VEEV is essential to obtain maximum immunogenicity and protective efficacy.
Six monoclonal antibodies were isolated that exhibited specificity for a furin cleavage site deletion mutant (V3526) of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV). These antibodies comprise a single competition group and bound the E3 glycoprotein of VEEV subtype I viruses but failed to bind the E3 glycoprotein of other alphaviruses. These antibodies neutralized V3526 virus infectivity but did not neutralize the parental strain of Trinidad donkey (TrD) VEEV. However, the E3-specific antibodies did inhibit the production of virus from VEEV TrD-infected cells. In addition, passive immunization of mice demonstrated that antibody to the E3 glycoprotein provided protection against lethal VEEV TrD challenge. This is the first recognition of a protective epitope in the E3 glycoprotein. Furthermore, these results indicate that E3 plays a critical role late in the morphogenesis of progeny virus after E3 appears on the surfaces of infected cells.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of human and equine cases of severe disease in the Americas. A passive surveillance study was conducted in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador to determine the arboviral etiology of febrile illness. Patients with suspected viral-associated, acute, undifferentiated febrile illness of <7 days duration were enrolled in the study and blood samples were obtained from each patient and assayed by virus isolation. Demographic and clinical information from each patient was also obtained at the time of voluntary enrollment. In 2005–2007, cases of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) were diagnosed for the first time in residents of Bolivia; the patients did not report traveling, suggesting endemic circulation of VEEV in Bolivia. In 2001 and 2003, VEE cases were also identified in Ecuador. Since 1993, VEEV has been continuously isolated from patients in Loreto, Peru, and more recently (2005), in Madre de Dios, Peru. We performed phylogenetic analyses with VEEV from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru and compared their relationships to strains from other parts of South America. We found that VEEV subtype ID Panama/Peru genotype is the predominant one circulating in Peru. We also demonstrated that VEEV subtype ID strains circulating in Ecuador belong to the Colombia/Venezuela genotype and VEEV from Madre de Dios, Peru and Cochabamba, Bolivia belong to a new ID genotype. In summary, we identified a new major lineage of enzootic VEEV subtype ID, information that could aid in the understanding of the emergence and evolution of VEEV in South America.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of human and equine cases of severe disease in the Americas. In 2005–2007, cases of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) were diagnosed for the first time in residents of Bolivia; the patients did not report traveling, suggesting endemic circulation of VEEV in Bolivia. In 2001 and 2003, VEE cases were also identified in Ecuador. We characterize recent VEEV from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru and compared their relationships to strains from other parts of South America. We found that most VEEV from Peru grouped within a particular genetic lineage known to circulate in Panama and Peru whereas the VEEV circulating in Ecuador belong to a genetic lineage that circulates in Colombia and Venezuela. Importantly, the VEEV from Madre de Dios, Peru and Cochabamba, Bolivia belong to a new genetic lineage. This finding could aid in the understanding of the emergence and evolution of VEEV in South America and underscores the need for continuous monitoring for VEEV activity.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global health burden for which safe vaccines are needed. BCG has limitations as a TB vaccine so we have focused on live attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutants as vaccine candidates. Prior to human studies, however, it is necessary to demonstrate safety in non-human primates (NHP). In this study, we evaluate the safety and efficacy of two live attenuated M. tuberculosis double deletion vaccine strains mc26020 (ΔlysA ΔpanCD) and mc26030 (ΔRD1 ΔpanCD) in cynomolgus macaques. In murine models, mc26020 is rapidly cleared while mc26030 persists. Both mc26020 and mc26030 were safe and well tolerated in cynomolgus macaques. Following a high-dose intrabronchial challenge with virulent M. tuberculosis, mc26020-vaccinates were afforded a level of protection intermediate between that elicited by BCG vaccination and no vaccination. BCG vaccinates had reduced tuberculosis-associated pathology and improved clinical scores as compared to saline and mc26030 vaccinates, but survival did not differ among the groups.
Vaccine; Mycobacteria; Mycobacterium; Tuberculosis; Non-human primate; BCG; Safety
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is a reemerging virus that causes a severe and often fatal disease in equids and humans. In spite of a continuous public health threat, to date, no vaccines or antiviral drugs have been developed for human use. Experimental vaccines demonstrate either poor efficiency or severe adverse effects. In this study, we developed a new strategy of alphavirus modification aimed at making these viruses capable of replication and efficient induction of the immune response without causing a progressive infection, which might lead to disease development. To achieve this, we developed a pseudoinfectious virus (PIV) version of VEEV. VEE PIV mimics natural viral infection in that it efficiently replicates its genome, expresses all of the viral structural proteins, and releases viral particles at levels similar to those found in wild-type VEEV-infected cells. However, the mutations introduced into the capsid protein make this protein almost incapable of packaging the PIV genome, and most of the released virions lack genetic material and do not produce a spreading infection. Thus, VEE PIV mimics viral infection in terms of antigen production but is safer due to its inability to incorporate the viral genome into released virions. These genome-free virions are referred to as virus-like particles (VLPs). Importantly, the capsid-specific mutations introduced make the PIV a very strong inducer of the innate immune response and add self-adjuvant characteristics to the designed virus. This unique strategy of virus modification can be applied for vaccine development against other alphaviruses.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is a highly infectious alphavirus endemic in parts of Central and South America. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and the natural reservoir is the small rodent population, with epidemics occurring in horses and occasionally humans. Following infection, VEEV replicates in lymphoid tissues prior to invasion of the central nervous system. Treatment of VEEV-infected BALB/c mice with polyethylene glycol-conjugated alpha interferon (PEG IFN-α) results in a greatly enhanced survival from either a subcutaneous or an aerosol infection. Virus is undetectable within PEG IFN-α-treated individuals by day 30 postinfection (p.i.). Treatment results in a number of changes to the immune response characteristics normally associated with VEEV infection. Increased macrophage activation occurs in PEG IFN-α-treated BALB/c mice infected with VEEV. The rapid activation of splenic CD4, CD8, and B cells by day 2 p.i. normally associated with VEEV infection is absent in PEG IFN-α-treated mice. The high tumor necrosis factor alpha production by macrophages from untreated mice is greatly diminished in PEG IFN-α-treated mice. These results suggest key immunological mechanisms targeted by this lethal alphavirus that can be modulated by prolonged exposure to IFN-α.
Post-vaccinal encephalitis, although relatively uncommon, is a known adverse event associated with many live, attenuated smallpox vaccines. Although smallpox vaccination ceased globally in 1980, vaccine manufacture has resumed in response to concerns over the possible use of smallpox virus as an agent of bioterrorism. To better support the production of safer smallpox vaccines, we previously reported the development of a mouse model in which a relatively attenuated vaccine strain (Dryvax®) could be discerned from a more virulent laboratory strain (WR). Here we have further tested the performance of this assay by evaluating the neurovirulence of several vaccinia virus-based smallpox vaccines spanning a known range in neurovirulence for humans. Our data indicate that testing of 10 to 100 pfu of virus in mice following intracranial inoculation reliably assesses the virus’s neurovirulence potential for humans.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in China in 2002 and spread to other countries before brought under control. Because of a concern for reemergence or a deliberate release of the SARS coronavirus, vaccine development was initiated. Evaluations of an inactivated whole virus vaccine in ferrets and nonhuman primates and a virus-like-particle vaccine in mice induced protection against infection but challenged animals exhibited an immunopathologic-type lung disease.
Four candidate vaccines for humans with or without alum adjuvant were evaluated in a mouse model of SARS, a VLP vaccine, the vaccine given to ferrets and NHP, another whole virus vaccine and an rDNA-produced S protein. Balb/c or C57BL/6 mice were vaccinated IM on day 0 and 28 and sacrificed for serum antibody measurements or challenged with live virus on day 56. On day 58, challenged mice were sacrificed and lungs obtained for virus and histopathology.
All vaccines induced serum neutralizing antibody with increasing dosages and/or alum significantly increasing responses. Significant reductions of SARS-CoV two days after challenge was seen for all vaccines and prior live SARS-CoV. All mice exhibited histopathologic changes in lungs two days after challenge including all animals vaccinated (Balb/C and C57BL/6) or given live virus, influenza vaccine, or PBS suggesting infection occurred in all. Histopathology seen in animals given one of the SARS-CoV vaccines was uniformly a Th2-type immunopathology with prominent eosinophil infiltration, confirmed with special eosinophil stains. The pathologic changes seen in all control groups lacked the eosinophil prominence.
These SARS-CoV vaccines all induced antibody and protection against infection with SARS-CoV. However, challenge of mice given any of the vaccines led to occurrence of Th2-type immunopathology suggesting hypersensitivity to SARS-CoV components was induced. Caution in proceeding to application of a SARS-CoV vaccine in humans is indicated.
Vaccines against primary pneumonic plague, a potential bioweapon, must be tested for efficacy in well-characterized nonhuman primate models. Telemetered cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) were challenged by the aerosol route with doses equivalent to approximately 100 50% effective doses of Yersinia pestis strain CO92 and necropsied at 24-h intervals postexposure (p.e.). Data for telemetered heart rates, respiratory rates, and increases in the temperature greater than the diurnal baseline values identified the onset of the systemic response at 55 to 60 h p.e. in all animals observed for at least 70 h p.e. Bacteremia was detected at 72 h p.e. by a Yersinia 16S rRNA-specific quantitative reverse transcription-PCR and was detected later by the culture method at the time of moribund necropsy. By 72 h p.e. multilobar pneumonia with diffuse septal inflammation consistent with early bacteremia was established, and all lung tissues had a high bacterial burden. The levels of cytokines or chemokines in serum were not significantly elevated at any time, and only the interleukin-1β, CCL2, and CCL3 levels were elevated in lung tissue. Inhalational plague in the cynomolgus macaque inoculated by the aerosol route produces most clinical features of the human disease, and in addition the disease progression mimics the disease progression from the anti-inflammatory phase to the proinflammatory phase described for the murine model. Defined milestones of disease progression, particularly the onset of fever, tachypnea, and bacteremia, should be useful for evaluating the efficacy of candidate vaccines.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is a reemerging pathogen and a continuing threat to humans and equines in the Americas. Identification of the genetic determinants that enable epizootic VEEV strains to arise and exploit equines as amplification hosts to cause widespread human disease is pivotal to understanding VEE emergence. The sensitivity to murine alpha/beta interferon-mediated antiviral activity was previously correlated to the epizootic phenotype of several VEEV strains. Infectious cDNA clones were generated from an epizootic subtype IC VEEV strain (SH3) isolated during the 1992 Venezuelan outbreak and a closely related enzootic, sympatric subtype ID strain (ZPC738). These VEEV strains had low-cell-culture-passage histories and differed by only 12 amino acids in the nonstructural and structural proteins. Rescued viruses showed similar growth kinetics to their parent viruses in several cell lines, and murine infections resulted in comparable viremia and disease. Unlike what was found in other studies of epizootic and enzootic VEEV strains, the sensitivities to murine alpha/beta interferon did not differ appreciably between these epizootic versus enzootic strains, calling into question the reliability of interferon sensitivity as a marker of epizootic potential.
Here we briefly report testosterone and cytokine responses to Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) in macaques which were used as part of a larger study conducted by the Department of Defense to better characterize pathological responses to aerosolized VEEV in non-human primates. Serial samples were collected and analyzed for testosterone and cytokines prior to and during infection in 8 captive male macaques. Infected animals exhibited a febrile response with few significant changes in cytokine levels. Baseline testosterone levels were positively associated with viremia following exposure and were significantly higher than levels obtained during infection. Such findings suggest that disease-induced androgen suppression is a reasonable area for future study. Decreased androgen levels during physiological perturbations may function, in part, to prevent immunosuppression by high testosterone levels and to prevent the use of energetic resources for metabolically-expensive anabolic functions.
Enzootic strains of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) have been isolated from febrile patients in the Peruvian Amazon Basin at low but consistent levels since the early 1990s. Through a clinic-based febrile surveillance program, we detected an outbreak of VEEV infections in Iquitos, Peru, in the first half of 2006. The majority of these patients resided within urban areas of Iquitos, with no report of recent travel outside the city. To characterize the risk factors for VEEV infection within the city, an antibody prevalence study was carried out in a geographically stratified sample of urban areas of Iquitos. Additionally, entomological surveys were conducted to determine if previously incriminated vectors of enzootic VEEV were present within the city. We found that greater than 23% of Iquitos residents carried neutralizing antibodies against VEEV, with significant associations between increased antibody prevalence and age, occupation, mosquito net use, and overnight travel. Furthermore, potential vector mosquitoes were widely distributed across the city. Our results suggest that while VEEV infection is more common in rural areas, transmission also occurs within urban areas of Iquitos, and that further studies are warranted to identify the precise vectors and reservoirs involved in urban VEEV transmission.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) is a mosquito-borne viral disease often causing grave illness and large outbreaks of disease in South America. In Iquitos, Peru, a city of 350,000 situated in the Amazon forest, we normally observe 10–14 VEE cases per year associated with people traveling to rural areas where strains VEE virus circulate among forest mosquitoes and rodents. In 2006 we detected a 5-fold increase in human VEE cases, and many of these patients had no travel history outside the city where they lived. In response to this outbreak, we decided to determine if potential carrier mosquitoes were present within the city and if city residents had been previously exposed to the virus. We found that mosquitoes previously shown to transmit the virus in other locations were present—in varying amounts based on location and time of year—throughout Iquitos. A large percentage of the human population (>23%) had antibodies indicating past exposure to the virus. Previous VEE infection was associated with age, occupation, mosquito exposure, and overnight travel. Our data represent evidence of transmission of a forest strain of VEE within a large urban area. Continued monitoring of this situation will shed light on mechanisms of virus emergence.