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
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.
Although two investigational vaccines are used to immunize humans against Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus, neither had previously been tested for protective efficacy against aerosol exposure. Live attenuated vaccine (TC-83) protected all hamsters challenged by either aerosol or subcutaneous routes with 4.7 to 5.2 log10 PFU of virulent Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus. Formaldehyde-inactivated vaccine (C-84) failed to protect against aerosol challenge but did protect against subcutaneous challenge. Protection elicited by TC-83 vaccine did not depend solely on serum-neutralizing antibody. These studies suggest that TC-83 vaccine is preferable to C-84 vaccine for protecting laboratory workers at risk to aerosol exposure.
In a previous report, it was shown that nonviable Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) vaccines prepared by exposure of virus suspensions produced in WI-38 cells to ionizing radiations were highly effective in protecting guinea pigs subjected to intraperitoneal (ip) challenge with VEE virus. To characterize further the efficacy of irradiated vaccines, guinea pigs were immunized with three lots of vaccine inactivated by exposure to 8 × 106 r of gamma rays and then were challenged via the respiratory route with aerosols of VEE virus. Animals that received a series of three ip inoculations of vaccine at 1-week intervals showed high levels of resistance to aerosol challenge. The 50% effective dose values of vaccines ranged from <0.0016 to 0.0051 ml for respiratory challenge and from <0.00074 to 0.0011 ml for intraperitoneal challenge. Serological studies showed that antigenicity of the irradiated vaccines was excellent. Moderate to high levels of serum-neutralizing and hemagglutination-inhibiting antibodies were demonstrated in the majority of animals vaccinated with undiluted or 10−1 dilutions of the vaccines. However, serum-neutralizing and hemagglutination-inhibiting antibody levels were not always indicative of the level of immunity, because some animals in which significant antibody could not be demonstrated were able to survive challenge with VEE virus.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses (VEEV) are responsible for human diseases in the Americas, producing severe or mild illness with symptoms indistinguishable from dengue and other arboviral diseases. For this reason, many cases remain without certain diagnosis. Seroprevalence studies for VEEV subtypes IAB, ID, IF (Mosso das Pedras virus; MDPV), IV (Pixuna virus; PIXV) and VI (Rio Negro virus; RNV) were conducted in persons from Northern provinces of Argentina: Salta, Chaco and Corrientes, using plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT). RNV was detected in all studied provinces. Chaco presented the highest prevalence of this virus (14.1%). Antibodies against VEEV IAB and -for the first time- against MDPV and PIXV were also detected in Chaco province. In Corrientes, seroprevalence against RNV was 1.3% in the pediatric population, indicating recent infections. In Salta, this was the first investigation of VEEV members, and antibodies against RNV and PIXV were detected. These results provide evidence of circulation of many VEE viruses in Northern Argentina, showing that surveillance of these infectious agents should be intensified.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses (VEEV) are responsible for human diseases in the Americas. They produce severe or mild illnesses with symptoms indistinguishable from dengue and other arboviral diseases; for this reason, many cases remain undiagnosed. We detected neutralizing antibodies (NTAbs) against VEEV IAB, VEEV ID, MDPV (VEEV subtype IF), PIXV (VEEV subtype IV) and RNV (VEEV subtype VI) in human serum samples of Northern provinces of Argentina. Chaco province showed presence of NTAbs against VEEV IAB, MDPV, PIXV and RNV. In Corrientes province, we detected NTAbs against RNV in a pediatric population. NTAbs against PIXV and RNV were also detected in Salta province. These findings demonstrated the circulation of many VEEV strains in Northern Argentina and underscore the need for surveillance of dengue like illness in this region.
Nonhuman primates (NHP) are considered to be the most appropriate model for predicting how humans will respond to many infectious diseases. Due to ethical and monetary concerns associated with the use of NHP, rodent models that are as predictive of responses likely to be seen in human vaccine recipients are warranted. Using implanted telemetry devices, body temperature and activity were monitored in inbred and outbred mouse strains following administration of the live-attenuated vaccine for Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), V3526. Following analysis of individual mouse data, only outbred mouse strains showed changes in diurnal temperature and activity profiles following vaccination. Similar changes were observed following VEEV challenge of vaccinated outbred mice. From these studies, we conclude, outbred mouse strains implanted with telemeters are a sensitive model for predicting responses in humans following vaccination.
vaccine; mouse; telemetry
Epizootic subtype IAB and IC Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses (VEEV) readily infect the epizootic mosquito vector Aedes taeniorhynchus. The inability of enzootic subtype IE viruses to infect this mosquito species provides a model system for the identification of natural viral determinants of vector infectivity. To map mosquito infection determinants, reciprocal chimeric viruses generated from epizootic subtype IAB and enzootic IE VEEV were tested for mosquito infectivity. Chimeras containing the IAB epizootic structural gene region and, more specifically, the IAB PE2 envelope glycoprotein E2 precursor gene demonstrated an efficient infection phenotype. Introduction of the PE2 gene from an enzootic subtype ID virus into an epizootic IAB or IC genetic backbone resulted in lower infection rates than those of the epizootic parent. The finding that the E2 envelope glycoprotein, the site of epitopes that define the enzootic and epizootic subtypes, also encodes mosquito infection determinants suggests that selection for efficient infection of epizootic mosquito vectors may mediate VEE emergence.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus antigenic subtypes and varieties are considered either epidemic/epizootic or enzootic. In addition to epidemiological differences between the epidemic and enzootic viruses, several in vitro and in vivo laboratory markers distinguishing the viruses have been identified, including differential plaque size, sensitivity to interferon (IFN), and virulence for guinea pigs. These observations have been shown to be useful predictors of natural, equine virulence and epizootic potential. Chimeric viruses containing variety IAB (epizootic) nonstructural genes with variety IE (enzootic) structural genes (VE/IAB-IE) or IE nonstructural genes and IAB structural genes (IE/IAB) were constructed to systematically analyze and map viral phenotype and virulence determinants. Plaque size analysis showed that both chimeric viruses produced a mean plaque diameter that was intermediate between those of the parental strains. Additionally, both chimeric viruses showed intermediate levels of virus replication and virulence for guinea pigs compared to the parental strains. However, IE/IAB produced a slightly higher viremia and an average survival time 2 days shorter than the VE/IAB-IE virus. Finally, IFN sensitivity assays revealed that only one chimera, VE/IAB-IE, was intermediate between the two parental types. The second chimera, containing the IE nonstructural genes, was at least five times more sensitive to IFN than the IE parental virus and greater than 50 times more sensitive than the IAB parent. These results implicate viral components in both the structural and nonstructural portions of the genome in contributing to the epizootic phenotype and indicate the potential for epidemic emergence from the IE enzootic VEE viruses.
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.
Mice immunized with recombinant vaccinia virus (VACC) expressing Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus capsid protein and glycoproteins E1 and E2 or with attenuated VEE TC-83 virus vaccine developed VEE-specific neutralizing antibody and survived intraperitoneal challenge with virulent VEE virus strains including Trinidad donkey (subtype 1AB), P676 (subtype 1C), 3880 (subtype 1D), and Everglades (subtype 2). However, unlike immunization with TC-83 virus, immunization with the recombinant VACC/VEE virus did not protect mice from intranasal challenge with VEE Trinidad donkey virus. These results suggest that recombinant VACC/VEE virus is a vaccine candidate for equines and humans at risk of mosquito-transmitted VEE disease but not for laboratory workers at risk of accidental exposure to aerosol infection with VEE virus.
During the summer and fall of 1971, epizootic and epidemic Venezuelan equine encephalitis was detected in Texas. Isolates of epizootic (IB) and vaccine (TC-83) strains were distinguished by virulence of the former for guinea pigs. Vaccine virus was isolated from 1 to 14 days after vaccination and neutralization tests demonstrated the appearance of antibody about a week after vaccination. Viremia titers of subtype IB in horses ranged from 2.2 to 8.3 log10 suckling mouse intracranial 50% lethal doses per ml. Of 101 equines from which Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (IB or TC-83) strains were isolated, 87 had no neutralizing antibody against Venezuelan, eastern or western equine encephalitis viruses.
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
The efficacy of Formalin-inactivated Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) vaccine has been reported to be low for man. Although a live VEE vaccine has been shown to be highly effective for the protection of laboratory workers, local and systemic reactions have occurred in approximately 20% of inoculated individuals. Therefore, studies were initiated in an attempt to produce an inactivated vaccine of high potency with low toxicity. Inactivated VEE vaccines were prepared by exposing virus suspensions to 8 × 106 or 10 × 106 r of gamma radiation. Irradiated VEE vaccines prepared from virus suspensions produced in Maitland-type chick embryo (MTCE) cell cultures and in monolayer cultures of human diploid strain WI-38 cells were highly immunogenic for mice and guinea pigs. Guinea pigs vaccinated with a series of three inoculations of vaccine (MTCE) survived challenge with at least 108·4 mouse intracerebral 50% lethal doses of VEE virus. Irradiated vaccines induced high levels of serum-neutralizing and hemagglutinin-inhibiting antibodies in guinea pigs and rabbits. These findings suggest that ionizing radiation may be effective in the preparation of an inactivated VEE vaccine.
A candidate live-virus vaccine strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE) was configured as a replication-competent vector for in vivo expression of heterologous immunogens. Three features of VEE recommend it for use as a vaccine vector. (i) Most human and animal populations are not already immune to VEE, so preexisting immunity to the vector would not limit expression of the heterologous antigen. (ii) VEE replicates first in local lymphoid tissue, a site favoring the induction of an effective immune response. (iii) Parenteral immunization of rodents and humans with live, attenuated VEE vaccines protects against mucosal challenge, suggesting that VEE vaccine vectors might be used successfully to protect against mucosal pathogens. Upon subcutaneous (s.c.) inoculation into the footpad of mice, a VEE vector containing the complete influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) gene expressed HA in the draining lymph node and induced anti-HA immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgA serum antibodies, the levels of which could be increased by s.c. booster inoculation. When immunized mice were challenged intranasally with a virulent strain of influenza virus, replication of challenge virus in their lungs was restricted, and they were completely protected from signs of disease. Significant reduction of influenza virus replication in the nasal epithelia of HA vector-immunized mice suggested an effective immunity at the mucosal surface. VEE vaccine vectors represent an alternative vaccination strategy when killed or subunit vaccines are ineffective or when the use of a live attenuated vaccine might be unsafe.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses (VEEV) belonging to subtype IC have caused three (1962–1964, 1992–1993 and 1995) major equine epizootics and epidemics. Previous sequence analyses of a portion of the envelope glycoprotein gene demonstrated a high degree of conservation among isolates from the 1962–1964 and the 1995 outbreaks, as well as a 1983 interepizootic mosquito isolate from Panaquire, Venezuela. However, unlike subtype IAB VEEV that were used to prepare inactivated vaccines that probably initiated several outbreaks, subtype IC viruses have not been used for vaccine production and their conservation cannot be explained in this way. To characterize further subtype IC VEEV conservation and to evaluate potential sources of the 1995 outbreak, we sequenced the complete genomes of three isolates from the 1962–1964 outbreak, the 1983 Panaquire interepizootic isolate, and two isolates from 1995. The sequence of the Panaquire isolate, and that of virus isolated from a mouse brain antigen prepared from subtype IC strain P676 and used in the same laboratory, suggested that the Panaquire isolate represents a laboratory contaminant. Some authentic epizootic IC strains isolated 32 years apart showed a greater degree of sequence identity than did isolates from the same (1962–1964 or 1995) outbreak. If these viruses were circulating and replicating between 1964 and 1995, their rate of sequence evolution was at least 10-fold lower than that estimated during outbreaks or that of closely related enzootic VEEV strains that circulate continuously. Current understanding of alphavirus evolution is inconsistent with this conservation. This subtype IC VEEV conservation, combined with phylogenetic relationships, suggests the possibility that the 1995 outbreak was initiated by a laboratory strain.
Epidemics of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) result from high-titer equine viremia of IAB and IC subtype viruses that mediate increased mosquito transmission and spillover to humans. Previous genetic studies suggest that mutations in the E2 envelope glycoprotein allow relatively viremia-incompetent, enzootic subtype ID strains to adapt for equine replication, leading to VEE emergence. To test this hypothesis directly, chimeric VEEV strains containing the genetic backbone of enzootic subtype ID strains and the partial envelope glycoprotein genes of epizootic subtype IC and IAB strains, as well as reciprocal chimeras, were used for experimental infections of horses. Insertion of envelope genes from two different, closely related enzootic subtype ID strains into the epizootic backbones resulted in attenuation, demonstrating that the epizootic envelope genes are necessary for the equine-virulent and viremia-competent phenotypes. The partial epizootic envelope genes introduced into an enzootic ID backbone were sufficient to generate the virulent, viremia-competent equine phenotype. These results indicate that a small number of envelope gene mutations can generate an equine amplification-competent, epizootic VEEV from an enzootic progenitor and underscore the limitations of small animal models for evaluating and predicting the epizootic phenotype.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important viral pathogen that causes severe lower respiratory tract infection in infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. There are no licensed RSV vaccines to date. To prevent RSV infection, immune responses in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts are required. Previously, immunization with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRPs) demonstrated effectiveness in inducing mucosal protection against various pathogens. In this study, we developed VRPs encoding RSV fusion (F) or attachment (G) glycoproteins and evaluated the immunogenicity and efficacy of these vaccine candidates in mice and cotton rats. VRPs, when administered intranasally, induced surface glycoprotein-specific virus neutralizing antibodies in serum and immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies in secretions at the respiratory mucosa. In addition, fusion protein-encoding VRPs induced gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-secreting T cells in the lungs and spleen, as measured by reaction with an H-2Kd-restricted CD8+ T-cell epitope. In animals vaccinated with F protein VRPs, challenge virus replication was reduced below the level of detection in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts following intranasal RSV challenge, while in those vaccinated with G protein VRPs, challenge virus was detected in the upper but not the lower respiratory tract. Close examination of histopathology of the lungs of vaccinated animals following RSV challenge revealed no enhanced inflammation. Immunization with VRPs induced balanced Th1/Th2 immune responses, as measured by the cytokine profile in the lungs and antibody isotype of the humoral immune response. These results represent an important first step toward the use of VRPs encoding RSV proteins as a prophylactic vaccine for RSV.
Antivector immunity has been recognized as a potential caveat of using virus-based vaccines. In the present study, an alphavirus-based replicon particle vaccine platform, which has demonstrated robust immunogenicity in animal models, was tested for effects of antivector immunity on immunogenicity against hemagglutinin of influenza virus as a target antigen and efficacy for protection against lethal challenge with the virus. Chimeric alphavirus-based replicon particles, comprising Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus nonstructural and Sindbis virus structural components, induced efficient protective antibody responses, which were not adversely influenced after multiple immunizations with the same vector expressing various antigens.
A safe, replication-defective viral vector that can induce mucosal and systemic immune responses and confer protection against many infectious pathogens, such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), may be an ideal vaccine platform. Accordingly, we have generated and tested alphavirus replicon particles encoding HIV-1 Gag from Sindbis virus (SIN-Gag) and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE-Gag), as well as chimeras between the two (VEE/SIN-Gag). Following intramuscular (i.m.), intranasal (i.n.), or intravaginal (IVAG) immunization with VEE/SIN-Gag and an IVAG challenge with vaccinia virus encoding HIV Gag (VV-Gag), a larger number of Gag-specific CD8+ intracellular gamma interferon-expressing cells (iIFNEC) were detected in iliac lymph nodes (ILN), which drain the vaginal/uterine mucosa (VUM), than were observed after immunizations with SIN-Gag. Moreover, a single i.n. or IVAG immunization with VEE/SIN-Gag induced a larger number of cells expressing HIV Gag in ILN, and immunizations with VEE/SIN-Gag through any route induced better protective responses than immunizations with SIN-Gag. In VUM, a larger percentage of iIFNEC expressed α4β7 or αEβ7 integrin than expressed CD62L integrin. However, in spleens (SP), a larger percentage of iIFNEC expressed α4β7 or CD62L than expressed αEβ7. Moreover, a larger percentage of iIFNEC expressed the chemokine receptor CCR5 in VUM and ILN than in SP. These results demonstrate a better induction of cellular and protective responses following immunizations with VEE/SIN-Gag than that following immunizations with SIN-Gag and also indicate a differential expression of homing and chemokine receptors on iIFNEC in mucosal effector and inductive sites versus systemic lymphoid tissues.
There are no vaccines or therapeutics currently approved for the prevention or treatment of ebolavirus infection. Previously, a replicon vaccine based on Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) demonstrated protective efficacy against Marburg virus in nonhuman primates. Here, we report the protective efficacy of Sudan virus (SUDV)- and Ebola virus (EBOV)-specific VEEV replicon particle (VRP) vaccines in nonhuman primates. VRP vaccines were developed to express the glycoprotein (GP) of either SUDV or EBOV. A single intramuscular vaccination of cynomolgus macaques with VRP expressing SUDV GP provided complete protection against intramuscular challenge with SUDV. Vaccination against SUDV and subsequent survival of SUDV challenge did not fully protect cynomolgus macaques against intramuscular EBOV back-challenge. However, a single simultaneous intramuscular vaccination with VRP expressing SUDV GP combined with VRP expressing EBOV GP did provide complete protection against intramuscular challenge with either SUDV or EBOV in cynomolgus macaques. Finally, intramuscular vaccination with VRP expressing SUDV GP completely protected cynomolgus macaques when challenged with aerosolized SUDV, although complete protection against aerosol challenge required two vaccinations with this vaccine.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) epidemics and equine epizootics occurred periodically in the Americas from the 1920s until the early 1970s, when the causative viruses, subtypes IAB and IC, were postulated to have become extinct. Recent outbreaks in Columbia and Venezuela have renewed interest in the source of epidemic/epizootic viruses and their mechanism of interepizootic maintenance. We performed phylogenetic analyses of VEE virus isolates spanning the entire temporal and geographic range of strains available, using 857-nucleotide reverse transcription-PCR products including the E3 and E2 genes. Analyses indicated that epidemic/epizootic viruses are closely related to four distinct, enzootic subtype ID-like lineages. One of these lineages, which occurs in Columbia, Peru, and Venezuela, also included all of the epidemic/epizootic isolates; the remaining three ID-like lineages, which occur in Panama, Peru, Florida, coastal Ecuador, and southwestern Columbia, were apparently not associated with epizootic VEE emergence. Within the Columbia/Peru/Venezuela lineage, three distinct monophyletic groups of epidemic/epizootic viruses were delineated, indicating that VEE emergence has occurred independently at least three times (convergent evolution). Representative, complete E2 amino acid sequences were compared to identify potential determinants of equine virulence and epizootic emergence. Amino acids implicated previously in laboratory mouse attenuation generally did not vary among the natural isolates that we examined, indicating that they probably are not involved in equine virulence changes associated with VEE emergence. Most informative amino acids correlated with phylogenetic relationships rather than phenotypic characteristics, suggesting that VEE emergence has resulted from several distinct combinations of mutations that generate viruses with similar antigenic and equine virulence phenotypes.
Laboratory workers were vaccinated with Venezuelan encephalitis virus, strain TC-83. After 2 to 3 years, they were bled, and their sera were tested for neutralizing antibody to all known Venezuelan encephalitis subtypes and varieties. The results indicated higher titers to epizootic than to enzootic Venezuelan encephalitis viruses and suggested that individuals vaccinated with TC-83 do not produce significant neutralizing antibody to heterologous subtypes. Mice vaccinated, bled, and tested in a similar manner produced much the same antibody profiles as did the humans and resisted challenge with all Venezuelan encephalitis viruses tested. In addition, the serum dilution plaque reduction neutralization test used was shown to be highly specific and adequate for diagnosis of infections with Venezuelan encephalitis viruses.
Purified and concentrated Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus derived from tissue cultures, rendered noninfectious by ionizing radiation with retention of in vitro serological activity, also retained a high level of immunogenicity. In mice, fluid vaccines afforded excellent protection against lethal challenge with homologous Trinidad strain VEE virus. A direct relationship was observed between concentration of vaccine or number of injections and survival. One intraperitoneal inoculation of undiluted vaccine protected essentially all mice challenged 21 days later with 100,000 mouse intraperitoneal LD50 of virus. Similarly, mice receiving three injections of vaccines diluted 1:100 were completely protected. Noninfectious VEE virus preparations combined with adjuvant 65, a nontoxic metabolizable vehicle, were likewise very effective in protecting mice immunized intraperitoneally or subcutaneously against lethal challenge. Guinea pigs immunized subcutaneously with adjuvant-combined vaccine survived lethal challenge of 1,000,000 guinea pig intraperitoneal LD50.
Newly emerging viruses often circulate as a heterogeneous swarm in wild animal reservoirs prior to their emergence in humans, and their antigenic identities are often unknown until an outbreak situation. The newly emerging severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and reemerging influenza virus cause disproportionate disease in the aged, who are also notoriously difficult to successfully vaccinate, likely due to immunosenescence. To protect against future emerging strains, vaccine platforms should induce broad cross-reactive immunity that is sufficient to protect from homologous and heterologous challenge in all ages. From initial studies, we hypothesized that attenuated Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE) replicon particle (VRP) vaccine glycoproteins mediated vaccine failure in the aged. We then compared the efficacies of vaccines bearing attenuated (VRP3014) or wild-type VEE glycoproteins (VRP3000) in young and aged mice within novel models of severe SARS-CoV pathogenesis. Aged animals receiving VRP3000-based vaccines were protected from SARS-CoV disease, while animals receiving the VRP3014-based vaccines were not. The superior protection for the aged observed with VRP3000-based vaccines was confirmed in a lethal influenza virus challenge model. While the VRP3000 vaccine's immune responses in the aged were sufficient to protect against lethal homologous and heterologous challenge, our data suggest that innate defects within the VRP3014 platform mediate vaccine failure. Exploration into the mechanism(s) of successful vaccination in the immunosenescent should aid in the development of successful vaccine strategies for other viral diseases disproportionately affecting the elderly, like West Nile virus, influenza virus, norovirus, or other emerging viruses of the future.
During 1971, an epizootic of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) reached the United States. Laboratory tests were performed on a large number of sick, healthy, unvaccinated, and vaccinated horses. Neutralization (N) tests in cell cultures revealed that 153 of 193 (79.3%) equines outside the state of Texas and 175 of 204 (85.8%) within Texas (82.6% overall) had detectable N antibody to VEE virus a week or more after vaccination. Twenty-six of 40 (65%) non-Texas equines and 18 of 29 (62%) Texas equines which had no detectable antibody against VEE virus a week or more after vaccination had N antibody against Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) or Western equine encephalitis (WEE) virus or both, whereas only 50 of 153 (32.7%) non-Texas equines and 82 of 175 (46.9%) Texas equines with demonstrable N antibody against VEE also had N antibody against EEE and/or WEE virus. In vaccinated equines, significant negative correlations were found between the occurrence of antibody to VEE and antibody to EEE and/or WEE virus. These findings support the hypothesis that pre-existing antibody to EEE and/or WEE virus may modify or interfere with infection by VEE virus. The epizoologic significance of this possibility is discussed briefly.