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1.  Using Serology to Assist with Complicated Post-Exposure Prophylaxis for Rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus 
Australia uses a protocol combining human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) and rabies vaccine for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) of rabies and Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), with the aim of achieving an antibody titre of ≥0.5 IU/ml, as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, as soon as possible.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We present the course of PEP administration and serological testing for four men with complex requirements. Following dog bites in Thailand, two men (62 years old, 25 years old) received no HRIG and had delayed vaccine courses: 23 days between dose two and three, and 18 days between dose one and two, respectively. Both seroconverted following dose four. Another 62-year-old male, who was HIV-positive (normal CD4 count), also suffered a dog bite and had delayed care receiving IM rabies vaccine on days six and nine in Thailand. Back in Australia, he received three single and one double dose IM vaccines followed by another double dose of vaccine, delivered intradermally and subcutaneously, before seroconverting. A 23-year-old male with a history of allergies received simultaneous HRIG and vaccine following potential ABLV exposure, and developed rash, facial oedema and throat tingling, which was treated with a parenteral antihistamine and tapering dose of steroids. Serology showed he seroconverted following dose four.
These cases show that PEP can be complicated by exposures in tourist settings where reliable prophylaxis may not be available, where treatment is delayed or deviates from World Health Organization recommendations. Due to the potentially short incubation time of rabies/ABLV, timely prophylaxis after a potential exposure is needed to ensure a prompt and adequate immune response, particularly in patients who are immune-suppressed or who have not received HRIG. Serology should be used to confirm an adequate response to PEP when treatment is delayed or where a concurrent immunosuppressing medical condition or therapy exists.
Author Summary
In Australia, the administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) occurs for potentially exposed returned travellers from endemic regions or for potential local exposure to Australian Bat Lyssavirus. For Australian tourists, delays in commencing PEP or not receiving HRIG or all recommended doses of vaccine are common. We report a case series where serology provided information in four patients with delayed, incomplete, or complicated PEP treatment. Three of these patients reported a dog bite in Thailand and the fourth was scratched by a bat and had bat urine enter his eye in Australia. Management was complicated by lack of HRIG administration, delays in the recommended timeframe for receipt of vaccine doses, and immunosuppression caused by co-administration of steroids and by HIV infection with a normal CD4 count. All patients seroconverted but this was delayed in some cases, and in the HIV-positive subject required a double dose of vaccine delivered intradermally and subcutaneously. In complex or non-standard PEP delivery, including delayed treatment and immunosuppression due to steroid treatment, HIV or another immunosuppressing medical condition, serology can be used to guide further treatment and should be used to confirm seroconversion.
PMCID: PMC3584984  PMID: 23469301
2.  A Simplified 4-Site Economical Intradermal Post-Exposure Rabies Vaccine Regimen: A Randomised Controlled Comparison with Standard Methods 
The need for economical rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is increasing in developing countries. Implementation of the two currently approved economical intradermal (ID) vaccine regimens is restricted due to confusion over different vaccines, regimens and dosages, lack of confidence in intradermal technique, and pharmaceutical regulations. We therefore compared a simplified 4-site economical PEP regimen with standard methods.
Two hundred and fifty-four volunteers were randomly allocated to a single blind controlled trial. Each received purified vero cell rabies vaccine by one of four PEP regimens: the currently accepted 2-site ID; the 8-site regimen using 0.05 ml per ID site; a new 4-site ID regimen (on day 0, approximately 0.1 ml at 4 ID sites, using the whole 0.5 ml ampoule of vaccine; on day 7, 0.1 ml ID at 2 sites and at one site on days 28 and 90); or the standard 5-dose intramuscular regimen. All ID regimens required the same total amount of vaccine, 60% less than the intramuscular method. Neutralising antibody responses were measured five times over a year in 229 people, for whom complete data were available.
All ID regimens showed similar immunogenicity. The intramuscular regimen gave the lowest geometric mean antibody titres. Using the rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test, some sera had unexpectedly high antibody levels that were not attributable to previous vaccination. The results were confirmed using the fluorescent antibody virus neutralisation method.
This 4-site PEP regimen proved as immunogenic as current regimens, and has the advantages of requiring fewer clinic visits, being more practicable, and having a wider margin of safety, especially in inexperienced hands, than the 2-site regimen. It is more convenient than the 8-site method, and can be used economically with vaccines formulated in 1.0 or 0.5 ml ampoules. The 4-site regimen now meets all requirements of immunogenicity for PEP and can be introduced without further studies.
Trial Registration ISRCTN 30087513
Author Summary
All human deaths from rabies result from failure to give adequate prophylaxis. After a rabid animal bite, immediate wound cleaning, rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin injections effectively prevent fatal infection. Immunoglobulin is very rarely available in developing countries, where prevention relies on efficacious vaccine. WHO approved vaccines are prohibitively expensive, but 2 economical regimens (injecting small amounts of vaccine intradermally, into the skin, at 2 or 8 sites on the first day of the course) have been used for many years in a few places. Practical or perceived difficulties have restricted widespread uptake of economical methods. These could largely be overcome by introducing a new, simpler regimen, involving 4 site injections on the first day. We vaccinated volunteers to compare the antibody levels induced by the 4-site intradermal regimen with those induced by the current 2-site and 8-site regimens and the “gold standard” intramuscular regimen favoured internationally. All the economical intradermal regimens were at least as immunogenic as the intramuscular method. The results provide sufficient evidence that the 4-site regimen meets the criteria necessary for its recommendation for use wherever the cost of vaccine is prohibitive and especially where 2 or more patients are treated on the same day.
PMCID: PMC2292256  PMID: 18431444
3.  Sickness and recovery of dogs challenged with a street rabies virus after vaccination with a vaccinia virus recombinant expressing rabies virus N protein. 
Journal of Virology  1992;66(5):2601-2604.
Dogs were vaccinated intradermally with vaccinia virus recombinants expressing the rabies virus glycoprotein (G protein) or nucleoprotein (N protein) or a combination of both proteins. The dogs vaccinated with either the G or G plus N proteins developed virus-neutralizing antibody titers, whereas those vaccinated with only the N protein did not. All dogs were then challenged with a lethal dose of a street rabies virus, which killed all control dogs. Dogs vaccinated with the G or G plus N proteins were protected. Five (71%) of seven dogs vaccinated with the N protein sickened, with incubation periods 3 to 7 days shorter than that of the control dogs; however, three (60%) of the five rabid dogs recovered without supportive treatment. Thus, five (71%) of seven vaccinated with the rabies N protein were protected against a street rabies challenge. Our data indicate that rabies virus N protein may be involved in reducing the incubation period in dogs primed with rabies virus N protein and then challenged with a street rabies virus and, of more importance, in subsequent sickness and recovery.
PMCID: PMC241012  PMID: 1560518
4.  Evaluation of a human diploid cell strain rabies vaccine: final report of a three year study of pre-exposure immunization. 
The Journal of Hygiene  1982;89(1):101-110.
The antibody responses of 194 volunteers were studied for up to 3 years after primary immunization with one, two or three doses of human diploid cell rabies vaccine, administered either in 0.1 ml volumes intradermally (i.d.) or as 1.0 ml intramuscularly (i.m.). Sero-conversion occurred in 95% of subjects after the first injection and in 100% after the second. The highest titres and most durable antibody responses were induced by three injections of vaccine. Booster doses were administered either by the subcutaneous (s.c.) or i.d. route, after 6, 12 or 24 months to randomly grouped volunteers; these induced responses greater than or equal to 5.0 i.u. per ml in 95% of subjects. The responses were rapid and were neither influenced by the primary regimen nor by the timing and route of the booster dose. Antibody titres after i.d. immunization were only two-fold lower than those induced by the larger volume of vaccine. The findings suggest that the i.d. route is both effective and economic.
PMCID: PMC2134158  PMID: 7096998
5.  Prophylactic immunization of humans against rabies by intradermal inoculation of human diploid cell culture vaccine. 
The antirabies human diploid cell vaccine produced by 1'Institute Merieux, Lyon, France, was administered intradermally to 35 high-risk volunteers using 0.2-ml amounts and various immunization schedules. Three groups never before vaccinated against rabies developed virus-neutralizing antibodies, the titer of which was dose dependent. A single injection stimulated the formation of antibodies. Four inoculations induced the highest antibody levels and the longest persistence of antibody. The administration of a single intradermal booster inoculation was sufficient, even in the case of low-persisting antibody, to elicit a rapid increase of antibodies to high levels. A primary inoculation course of two injections induced a sufficient antibody level which, in case of exposure, could apparently be rapidly elevated by a 0.2-ml intradermal booster inoculation. Adverse side reactions were observed in 7 of 14 individuals after a 1- or 1.5-year intradermal booster inoculation. We therefore suggest that the intramuscular and subcutaneous routes continue to be used for primary vaccinations and that the highly effective intradermal route be restricted to booster inoculations. This is the first long term study of this vaccine and should be a guideline for the pre-exposure treatment of high-risk personnel.
PMCID: PMC274241  PMID: 1254722
6.  Purified chick embryo cell rabies vaccine: economical multisite intradermal regimen for post-exposure prophylaxis. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1987;99(3):755-765.
The standard six-dose intramuscular (i.m.) rabies post-exposure vaccine regimen using a new purified chick embryo cell (PCEC) vaccine was compared with two economical multisite intradermal (i.d.) PCEC regimens, a multisite i.m. PCEC schedule and a subcutaneous regimen using a suckling mouse brain (SMB) rabies vaccine manufactured in Thailand. The neutralizing antibody results for the four-site and eight-site i.d. and the standard i.m. PCEC regimens were similar over 3 months. A three-site i.m. PCEC regimen had no advantage. The SMB vaccine gave the lowest antibody levels. Human rabies immune globulin therapy significantly increased the GMT of all groups on day 7, unlike equine antirabies serum (EARS). Both antisera suppressed antibody responses to PCEC on days 14 and 28. Three generalized reactions probably related to EARS were the only serious side effects. An eight-site i.d. PCEC vaccine regimen proved as immunogenic as the routine i.m. schedule and, if implemented as post-exposure prophylaxis, would be the cheapest widely available tissue culture vaccine regimen. The protective efficiency should now be tested in patients bitten by rabid animals.
PMCID: PMC2249234  PMID: 3428378
7.  Evaluation of a new five-injection, two-site,intradermal schedule for purified chick embryo cell rabies vaccine: A randomized, open-label, active-controlled trial in healthy adult volunteers in India 
Human rabies is an ongoing significant public health problem inmany developing countries, with India reporting the highest incidence of rabies-related deaths (∼20,000 per year). Many people living in India cannot afford the standard IM postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) with cell-culture vaccines, which are administered using a 5-dose regimen developed in Essen, Germany. A potentially less expensive intradermal (ID) regimen, based on the Essen regimen, has been developed at the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), Bangalore, India.
The objective of this study was to compare the immunogenicity and local and systemic tolerability of the KIMS-1D regimen with those of the standard Essen IM regimen in healthy adult volunteers in India.
This randomized, open-label, active-controlled trial was conductedat the Antirabies Clinic, Medical College, KIMS. Healthy adult volunteers were randomly assigned to receive purified chick embryo cell vaccine (PCECV) using the KIMS-1D regimen (0.1 mL injected ID at 2 body sites on days 0, 3, 7, 14, and 28 [“2-2-2-2-2”]) or the Essen IM regimen (1 mL injected IM at 1 body site on the same days Subjects were followed up for 365 days by the treating physician and encouraged to voluntarily report any adverse events (AEs). Serum rabies virus-neutralizing antibody (RVNA) concentrations were measured before the first injection on day 0 (baseline) and on days 14, 28, 90, 180, and 365, using the rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test.
Ninety-one subjects were enrolled and included in the tolerabilityand immunogenicity analyses. The ID group comprised 45 subjects (26 men, 19 women; mean [SD] age, 20.84 [1.48] years); the IM group, 46 subjects (28 men, 18 women; mean [SD] age, 21.02 [1.16] years). The most common local AEs were pain at the injection site (2/225 [0.9%] in the ID group and 10/230 [4.3%] in the IM group; P < 0.006) and itching at the injection site (5/225 [2.2%] in the ID group and none in the IM group; P = 0.026). All of the AEs were transient and resolved without the need for medication. All subjects had serum RVNA concentrations ≥0.5 IU/mL—considered protective by the World Health Organization—at all follow-up visits. However, the mean RVNA concentrations in the IM group were significantly higher compared with those in the ID group from days 14 to 365 (all, P < 0.001).
In this study in healthy volunteers, PEP with PCECV administered using the KIMS-ID regimen was well tolerated and immunologically efficacious for 365 days. Adequate RVNA levels were maintained with the KIMS-ID regimen from days 14 to 365, although these levels were significantly lower than those achieved in the group receiving the Essen IM regimen (all, P < 0.001).
PMCID: PMC3964532  PMID: 24672132
rabies; intradermal rabies vaccination; KIMS-ID regimen; randomizedcontrolled trial
8.  Pre-clinical toxicity & immunobiological evaluation of DNA rabies vaccine & combination rabies vaccine in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) 
The Indian Journal of Medical Research  2013;137(6):1072-1088.
Background & objectives:
Pre-clinical toxicology evaluation of biotechnology products is a challenge to the toxicologist. The present investigation is an attempt to evaluate the safety profile of the first indigenously developed recombinant DNA anti-rabies vaccine [DRV (100 μg)] and combination rabies vaccine [CRV (100 μg DRV and 1.25 IU of cell culture-derived inactivated rabies virus vaccine)], which are intended for clinical use by intramuscular route in Rhesus monkeys.
As per the regulatory requirements, the study was designed for acute (single dose - 14 days), sub-chronic (repeat dose - 28 days) and chronic (intended clinical dose - 120 days) toxicity tests using three dose levels, viz. therapeutic, average (2x therapeutic dose) and highest dose (10 x therapeutic dose) exposure in monkeys. The selection of the model i.e. monkey was based on affinity and rapid higher antibody response during the efficacy studies. An attempt was made to evaluate all parameters which included physical, physiological, clinical, haematological and histopathological profiles of all target organs, as well as Tiers I, II, III immunotoxicity parameters.
In acute toxicity there was no mortality in spite of exposing the monkeys to 10XDRV. In sub chronic and chronic toxicity studies there were no abnormalities in physical, physiological, neurological, clinical parameters, after administration of test compound in intended and 10 times of clinical dosage schedule of DRV and CRV under the experimental conditions. Clinical chemistry, haematology, organ weights and histopathology studies were essentially unremarkable except the presence of residual DNA in femtogram level at site of injection in animal which received 10X DRV in chronic toxicity study. No Observational Adverse Effects Level (NOAEL) of DRV is 1000 ug/dose (10 times of therapeutic dose) if administered on 0, 4, 7, 14, 28th day.
Interpretation & conclusions:
The information generated by this study not only draws attention to the need for national and international regulatory agencies in formulating guidelines for pre-clinical safety evaluation of biotech products but also facilitates the development of biopharmaceuticals as safe potential therapeutic agents.
PMCID: PMC3734712  PMID: 23852288
Biotech products; combination rabies vaccine (CRV); DNA rabies vaccine (DRV); pre-clinical toxicology; PVRV; purified vero cell-derived inactivated rabies virus vaccine; safety evaluation; toxicology
9.  A New Rabies Vaccine Based on a Recombinant Orf Virus (Parapoxvirus) Expressing the Rabies Virus Glycoprotein 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(3):1618-1630.
The present study describes the generation of a new Orf virus (ORFV) recombinant, D1701-V-RabG, expressing the rabies virus (RABV) glycoprotein that is correctly presented on the surface of infected cells without the need of replication or production of infectious recombinant virus. One single immunization with recombinant ORFV can stimulate high RABV-specific virus-neutralizing antibody (VNA) titers in mice, cats, and dogs, representing all nonpermissive hosts for the ORFV vector. The protective immune response against severe lethal challenge infection was analyzed in detail in mice using different dosages, numbers, and routes for immunization with the ORFV recombinant. Long-term levels of VNA could be elicited that remained greater than 0.5 IU per ml serum, indicative for the protective status. Single applications of higher doses (107 PFU) can be sufficient to confer complete protection against intracranial (i.c.) challenge, whereas booster immunization was needed for protection by the application of lower dosages. Anamnestic immune responses were achieved by each of the seven tested routes of inoculation, including oral application. Finally, in vivo antibody-mediated depletion of CD4-positive and/or CD8-posititve T cell subpopulations during immunization and/or challenge infection attested the importance of CD4 T cells for the induction of protective immunity by D1701-V-RabG. This report demonstrates another example of the potential of the ORFV vector and also indicates the capability of the new recombinant for vaccination of animals.
PMCID: PMC3554190  PMID: 23175365
10.  Intramuscular Inoculation of Mice with the Live-Attenuated Recombinant Rabies Virus TriGAS Results in a Transient Infection of the Draining Lymph Nodes and a Robust, Long-Lasting Protective Immune Response against Rabies 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(3):1834-1841.
A single intramuscular application of the live but not UV-inactivated recombinant rabies virus (RABV) variant TriGAS in mice induces the robust and sustained production of RABV-neutralizing antibodies that correlate with long-term protection against challenge with an otherwise lethal dose of the wild-type RABV. To obtain insight into the mechanism by which live TriGAS induces long-lasting protective immunity, quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis of muscle tissue, draining lymph nodes, spleen, spinal cord, and brain at different times after TriGAS inoculation revealed the presence of significant copy numbers of RABV-specific RNA in muscle, lymph node, and to a lesser extent, spleen for several days postinfection. Notably, no significant amounts of RABV RNA were detected in brain or spinal cord at any time after TriGAS inoculation. Differential qPCR analysis revealed that the RABV-specific RNA detected in muscle is predominantly genomic RNA, whereas RABV RNA detected in draining lymph nodes is predominantly mRNA. Comparison of genomic RNA and mRNA obtained from isolated lymph node cells showed the highest mRNA-to-genomic-RNA ratios in B cells and dendritic cells (DCs), suggesting that these cells represent the major cell population that is infected in the lymph node. Since RABV RNA declined to undetectable levels by 14 days postinoculation of TriGAS, we speculate that a transient infection of DCs with TriGAS may be highly immunostimulatory through mechanisms that enhance antigen presentation. Our results support the superior efficacy and safety of TriGAS and advocate for its utility as a vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3554143  PMID: 23192867
11.  Evaluation of a one week intradermal regimen for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis: Results of a randomized, open label, active-controlled trial in healthy adult volunteers in India 
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  2012;8(8):1077-1081.
The currently recommended intradermal regimen for post-exposure prophylaxis spreads over a month period which many times lead to low compliance from the patients. There is a need to introduce and evaluate short course regimens to overcome this problem. This study was conducted to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of a “new one week intradermal regimen” for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. A total of 80 healthy adult volunteers were enrolled and allocated randomly either to purified chick embryo cell (PCECV) rabies vaccine or purified verocell rabies vaccine (PVRV), 40 in each group. Each subject received intradermally one of the vaccines, using the one week regimen (4–4-4). Blood samples were collected on Days 0, 7, 14, 28,180 and 365 for estimation of rabies virus neutralizing antibody (RVNA) concentration. The sera samples were analyzed by rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT). All subjects in both the groups had adequate RVNA concentration of ≥ 0.5 IU/mL from day 14 to till day 180 and the difference of geometric mean concentrations between the two groups was not significant (p > 0.606). Further to assess the immunological memory produced by this new regimen, a “single visit four site” intradermal booster vaccination was given to those who did not have adequate RVNA concentration on day 365. This resulted in a quick and enhanced RVNA concentration in these subjects thus denoting a successful anamnestic response. The incidence of adverse events was 8.3% in PCECV group and 1.6% in PVRV group (p = 0.001) and the regimen was well tolerated without any dropouts. In conclusion, the new “one week intradermal regimen” is immunogenic and safe for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis and needs to be further evaluated in persons exposed to rabies.
PMCID: PMC3551879  PMID: 22699446
rabies; purified chick embryo cell rabies vaccine; purified vero cell rabies vaccine; randomized controlled trial; intradermal rabies vaccination
12.  A comparison of the tolerability of two dilution volumes (0.5 mL and 1.0 mL) of a purified chick embryo cell rabies vaccine administered intramuscularly to healthy adult volunteers: A randomized, intraindividual, assessor-blind study 
Background: The current recommendation of the manufacturer for administering purified chick embryo cell rabies vaccine (PCECV) is to reconstitute the contents with 1.0 mL of water for injection (WFI). However, it has been debated whether a lower volume of WFI (0.5 mL) is likely to cause less pain.
Objectives: The aims of this study were to compare the tolerability of PCECV administered IM at a volume of 0.5 mL versus 1.0 mL of diluent and to determine the immunogenicity of the vaccine when administered according to the World Health Organization-recommended preexposure prophylaxis regimen for rabies immunization.
Methods: This comparative, intraindividual, assessor-blind study was conducted at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Topiwala National Medical College and Bai Yamunabai Laxman Nair Charitable Hospital Mumbai, India). Healthy volunteers aged 18 to 50 years received, by randomized sequence, 3 IM injections of PCECV, diluted in 0.5 mL or 1.0 mL of WFI, on study days 0, 7, and 28. Tolerability was assessed at 30 minutes and 24 hours after injection and included assessments for local and systemic reactions. For immunogenicity assessment, rabies virus-neutralizing antibody 0RVNA) titers were assayed at baseline and on day 49 (ie, 3 weeks after the third injection).
Results: Twenty-six subjects (24 men, 2 women; mean [SD] age, 22.4 [2.4] years; mean [SD] body weight, 59.0 [11.3] kg) entered the study. Twenty-five subjects were included in the tolerability assessment; 24 in the immunogenicity assessment. No statistically significant differences were found between dilutions in the frequency of local and systemic reactions. Most reactions were mild. All subjects developed RVNA titers >0.5 IU/mL (indicative of protection) by day 49.
Conclusions: In this population of healthy volunteers, a full antigenic dose of PCECV in a dilution of 0.5 mL WFI is as well tolerated locally and systemically as in a dilution of 1.0 mL. All subjects developed levels of RVNA far exceeding 0.5 IU/mL, which is indicative of protection against rabies.
PMCID: PMC4052956  PMID: 24936103
rabies vaccine; purified chick embryo cell rabies vaccine; tolerability; volunteer; immunogenicity
13.  Evaluation of tests for rabies antibody and analysis of serum responses after administration of three different types of rabies vaccines. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1977;5(3):263-267.
Humoral antibody response to three types of rabies vaccines were assayed by the neutralization (NT), the mixed hemadsorption (MH), and the indirect immunofluorescence (IF) tests. The NT and MH tests were used to detect antibodies combining with antigens at the surface of virions and infected cells, whereas the indirect IF test measured antibodies mainly to the rabies nucleocapsid antigen. After immunization with a human diploid cell vaccine, antibodies were detected by both the NT and the MH test in the 14th- and 30th-day serum samples from each of eight vaccinated persons. There was a good correlation between titers obtained with the two tests in this group of vaccinees. Antibodies elicited by duck embryo and nervous tissue vaccines occurred less frequently and in lower titers. In these groups of vaccinees, 5 of 14 and 5 of 10, respectively, had antibodies detectable by the NT test in the 14th- and 30th-day sera but were negative by the MH test. It is suggested that this was due to the high levels of immunoglobulin M antibodies, which are known to be elicited by daily injections of vaccine. Since antibodies of the immunoglobulin M class are considered to be less important for protection against rabies, the MH test is recommended for immunity determinations. Compared with the NT test, this test also offers the advantage of being technically more convenient because of its capacity for testing numerous sera in a single run. Antibody titers obtained by the indirect IF test in the human diploid cell vaccine group were relatively low. Titers in the duck embryo and nervous tissue vaccine groups were higher but did not correlate with the results of the NT test.
PMCID: PMC274579  PMID: 323275
14.  Investigating the Role for IL-21 in Rabies Virus Vaccine-induced Immunity 
Over two-thirds of the world's population lives in regions where rabies is endemic, resulting in over 15 million people receiving multi-dose post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and over 55,000 deaths per year globally. A major goal in rabies virus (RABV) research is to develop a single-dose PEP that would simplify vaccination protocols, reduce costs associated with RABV prevention, and save lives. Protection against RABV infections requires virus neutralizing antibodies; however, factors influencing the development of protective RABV-specific B cell responses remain to be elucidated. Here we used a mouse model of IL-21 receptor-deficiency (IL-21R−/−) to characterize the role for IL-21 in RABV vaccine-induced immunity. IL-21R−/− mice immunized with a low dose of a live recombinant RABV-based vaccine (rRABV) produced only low levels of primary or secondary anti-RABV antibody response while wild-type mice developed potent anti-RABV antibodies. Furthermore, IL-21R−/− mice immunized with low-dose rRABV were only minimally protected against pathogenic RABV challenge, while all wild-type mice survived challenge, indicating that IL-21R signaling is required for antibody production in response to low-dose RABV-based vaccination. IL-21R−/− mice immunized with a higher dose of vaccine produced suboptimal anti-RABV primary antibody responses, but showed potent secondary antibodies and protection similar to wild-type mice upon challenge with pathogenic RABV, indicating that IL-21 is dispensable for secondary antibody responses to live RABV-based vaccines when a primary response develops. Furthermore, we show that IL-21 is dispensable for the generation of Tfh cells and memory B cells in the draining lymph nodes of immunized mice but is required for the detection of optimal GC B cells or plasma cells in the lymph node or bone marrow, respectively, in a vaccine dose-dependent manner. Collectively, our preliminary data show that IL-21 is critical for the development of optimal vaccine-induced primary but not secondary antibody responses against RABV infections.
Author Summary
Over two-thirds of the world's population lives in regions where rabies is endemic, resulting in over 15 million people receiving post-exposure treatment. A person, disproportionately a child, dies of rabies every 20 minutes and the cost of rabies prevention exceeds $1 billion US dollars per year. The development of a single-dose human rabies vaccine would greatly reduce the burden of rabies globally by lowering the cost associated with rabies vaccination and saving lives. Understanding how B cells develop to produce protective virus neutralizing antibodies would greatly help to achieve the goal of developing a single-dose vaccine. In this report, we show that IL-21 is critical for the induction of primary vaccine-induced anti-RABV G antibody titers and that the effects of IL-21 are highly dependent on the dose of vaccine administered. In our model of rabies immunogenicity and protection, the lack of IL-21 receptor influenced the detection of B cells in germinal centers in lymph nodes or of plasma cells in bone marrow after immunization with low or high doses of vaccine, respectively. Overall, these preliminary results indicate that IL-21 has the potential to influence B cell development and functions in the context of rabies vaccine-induced immunity and protection.
PMCID: PMC3597479  PMID: 23516660
15.  Antibody Response to a Human Diploid Cell Rabies Vaccine 
Applied Microbiology  1974;27(3):553-561.
An experimentally killed rabies virus vaccine prepared in a human diploid cell strain (WI-38)—Wyeth rabies vaccine (WRV)—was used by various injection schedules in two separate studies to define more closely in human volunteer subjects an effective vaccination schedule for pre- or postexposure immunization, particularly for donors of rabies-hyperimmune plasma. To permit valid comparisons between our results and those of other workers, antibody levels achieved were expressed in terms of international units (IU) per milliliter of serum. Antibody response of previously nonvaccinated persons were only modest after a single dose of WRV, never reaching a level higher than 0.80 IU/ml over a 56-day testing period. Moreover, antibody was not detected at 0.16 IU/ml before the 14th day, either after a single dose or after two doses given 3 days apart. The best response followed four doses of WRV given within 4 weeks. This schedule resulted in the highest rate of seroconversion to the ≥6 IU/ml antibody level required of potential rabies-immune plasma donors. Giving the first vaccine dose in aluminum hydroxide diluent did not enhance the antibody response. There was a definite suggestion in the various injection schedules that higher and more sustained antibody levels were reached when the interval between the first and second vaccine doses was longest. The greater immunogenicity of WRV as compared with duck embryo vaccine was best demonstrated by the fact that a single booster dose of duck embryo vaccine to previously vaccinated individuals resulted in only a sevenfold antibody rise during the following 56 days, whereas a booster dose of WRV elicited a 69-fold rise. Al(OH)3 in the first dose of WRV had no effect, but the enhancing effect of a longer interval between vaccine doses was noted once again; 20 of 20 subjects who received three doses of WRV with 4 weeks between doses developed good levels of rabies antibody, and 19 exceeded 6 IU/ml.
PMCID: PMC380083  PMID: 4856855
16.  Rabies antibody levels in pregnant women and their newborns after rabies post-exposure prophylaxis 
Background: Rabies is a fatal infectious disease and rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is the method of choice for prevention of human rabies.
Case series: We report rabies antibody levels in cord blood and also in serum of pregnant women who were bitten by suspected animals to rabies and were immunized by purified Vero cell rabies vaccine (PVRV) and Human Rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) serum. During the years of 2007-2010, six pregnant women by the age range of 22-35 years were admitted in treatment and prevention of rabies center in Pasture institute of Iran, in Tehran. Among them two cases were at first trimester, one at second trimester and three at third trimester of conception. The interval between biting with delivery was 5-265 days (mean 121 days).
Conclusion: Results of immunoglobulin illustrate that levels of rabies antibody in maternal sera with the fetus are not equal and uniform but it is proved that baby will find efficient immunity as well with minimum protective level of 0.5 IU/ml in all cases except a newborn whom had been born just 5 days after the mother’s immunization and in a shorter time than the appropriate immunization of the mother who had received her second vaccination courses.
PMCID: PMC4163280  PMID: 25242991
Rabies; Pregnancy; Newborn; Post-exposure prophylaxis
17.  Persistence of Rabies Antibody 5 Years after Postexposure Prophylaxis with Vero Cell Antirabies Vaccine and Antibody Response to a Single Booster Dose▿ 
This study was done to investigate the antibody response to a Vero cell antirabies vaccine, the persistence of antibody for 5 years, and the effect of a booster dose after this interval. From August 2005 to February 2011, a total of 195 patients were enrolled into our study due to an animal bite. The Essen intramuscular (i.m.) regimen, which is recommended by the WHO for modern vaccines used in postexposure treatment, was adopted in this study. Blood samples were obtained on day 0, day 7, day 14, day 45, year 1, year 2, year 3, year 4, year 5, and year 5 plus 14 days. Immunogenicity was evaluated by the titration of neutralizing antibodies with a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT). Seroconversion was expressed as the seroconversion rate (SCR). A secondary quantitative evaluation criterion, other than the seroconversion level, was the geometric mean titer (GMT). Of the 195 enrolled patients, 168 (86.4%) of them completed the whole study. No serious adverse reactions to the vaccine were reported during vaccination, the 5-year follow-up period, or revaccination. On day 14, the rabies antibody GMT value was 8.87 IU/ml in the vaccinees. During the next 5 years, the SCR in the ChengDa vaccine group gradually decreased to 34.0% at year 5, down from 90.5% at year 1. There was a significant booster effect: the GMT was 15.22 IU/ml on year 5 plus 14 days. Our findings demonstrate that the ChengDa rabies vaccine offers an alternative with a high degree of efficacy and yet limited side effects and ensures that the exposed patient will be on the safe side of the risk of rabies by the 14th day. Moreover, when followed by a booster dose 5 years later, it could boost the immunity. A further booster is effective in inducing a good neutralizing antibody response even after an interval of 5 years.
PMCID: PMC3165231  PMID: 21752947
18.  Immunogenicity of Simulated PCECV Postexposure Booster Doses 1, 3, and 5 Years after 2-Dose and 3-Dose Primary Rabies Vaccination in Schoolchildren 
Objectives. To assess the immunogenicity of intradermal (ID) booster doses of Purified Chick Embryo Cell rabies vaccine (PCECV, Rabipur) administered to Thai schoolchildren one, three and five years after a primary ID pre-exposure (PrEP) vaccination series. Methods. In this follow-up study of a randomized, open-label, phase II clinical trial, two simulated post-exposure booster doses of PCECV were administered on days 0 and 3 intradermally to 703 healthy schoolchildren, one, three or five years after primary vaccination with either two or three ID doses of 0.1 mL PCECV. Blood was drawn immediately before and 7, 14 and 365 days after the first booster dose to determine rabies virus neutralizing antibody (RVNA) concentrations. Results. An anamnestic response of approximately 30-fold increase in RVNA concentrations was demonstrated within 14 days after booster. All children (100%) developed adequate RVNA concentrations above 0.5 IU/mL. No vaccine related serious adverse events were seen in any of the vaccinees. Conclusion. ID rabies PrEP with PCECV is safe and immunogenic in schoolchildren and the anamnestic response to a two booster dose vaccination series was found to be adequate one, three, and five years after a two- or three-dose primary PrEP vaccination series.
PMCID: PMC3170734  PMID: 21991438
19.  Purified Vero cell rabies vaccine and human diploid cell strain vaccine: comparison of neutralizing antibody responses to post-exposure regimens 
The Journal of Hygiene  1986;96(3):483-489.
Neutralizing antibody responses to conventional rabies post-exposure regimens of human diploid cell strain vaccine (HDCSV) and the new purified Vero cell rabies vaccine (PVRV) were compared in 58 healthy Thai veterinary students. The geometric mean titres (GMTs) of the group given HDCSV were slightly higher than those given PVRV, but on day 28 the peak GMTs of the two groups were statistically similar. The early antibody response to PVRV was unaffected by the addition of passive immunization, whereas the level of HDCSV response was reduced on day 14, so that there was no difference on that day between the GMTs of the two vaccine groups given HRIG. However, by day 91 the GMT of those given PVRV and HRIG was lower than in those given HDCSV alone or with HRIG. The appearance of antibody was less rapid than was observed in previous studies using multiple-site intradermal vaccination. Side effects were trivial. Our results confirm the promise of this new, potentially more economical tissue culture vaccine, but they suggest that the regimen could be improved.
PMCID: PMC2129681  PMID: 3734433
20.  Survey of fox trappers in northern Alaska for rabies antibody. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1994;113(1):137-141.
The purpose of this research was to determine whether trappers in northern Alaska acquired immunity to rabies virus from non-bite exposures while trapping and skinning arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus). In coastal Alaska recurring epizootics presumably provide trappers ample opportunity for contact with rabid animals. Serum neutralization analyses of blood samples collected from 26 individuals were conducted. All but three had negative rabies neutralizing antibody levels (< 0.05 I.U./ml). Two of these had previously received rabies vaccine but one individual who had trapped for about 47 years with an estimated harvest of over 3000 foxes and who had never received pre- or post-exposure rabies vaccination had a rabies serum neutralizing antibody concentration of 2.30 I.U./ml. This represents the first report of an unvaccinated person acquiring rabies virus antibody with a titre above the 0.5 I.U./ml level considered acceptable by the World Health Organization.
PMCID: PMC2271209  PMID: 8062870
21.  Rabies trend in China (1990–2007) and post-exposure prophylaxis in the Guangdong province 
Rabies is a major public-health problem in developing countries such as China. Although the recent re-emergence of human rabies in China was noted in several epidemiological studies, little attention was paid to the reasons behind this phenomenon paralleling the findings of the previous reports. The purpose of this study is thus first to characterize the current trends of human rabies in China from 1990 to 2007, and then to define better recommendations for improving the post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) schedules delivered to rabies patients.
The most updated epidemiological data for 22527 human rabies cases from January 1990 to July 2007, retrieved from the surveillance database of reportable diseases managed by the Ministry of Health of China, were analysed. To investigate the efficiency for the post-exposure treatment of rabies, the details of 244 rabies patients, including their anti-rabies treatment of injuries or related incidents, were ascertained in Guangdong provincial jurisdiction. The risk factors to which the patients were predisposed or the regimens given to 80 patients who received any type of PEP were analysed to identify the reasons for the PEP failures.
The results from analysis of the large number of human rabies cases showed that rabies in China was largely under control during the period 1990–1996. However, there has been a large jump in the number of reported rabies cases since 2001 up to a new peak (with an incidence rate of 0.20 per 100000 people) that was reached in 2004, and where the level has remained until present. Then, we analysed the PEP in 244 rabies cases collected in the Guangdong province in 2003 and 2004, and found that 67.2% of the patients did not seek medical services or did not receive any PEP. Further analysis of PEP for the 80 rabies patients who received any type of PEP indicated that almost all of the patients did not receive proper or timely treatment on the wounds or post-exposure vaccination or rabies immunoglobulins.
While the issue of under-reporting of rabies in previous years may well be a factor in the apparent upwards trend of human rabies in recent years, the analysis of PEP in the Guangdong province provides evidence that suggests that the failure to receive PEP was a major factor in the number of human cases in China. Thus, the data underline the need for greatly improved availability and timely application of high-quality anti-rabies biologicals, both vaccines and immunoglobulins, in the treatment of human bite victims. Controlling dog rabies through pet vaccination schemes may also play a huge role in reducing the rate of human exposure. Education of the public, health care staff and veterinarians will also help to change the current situation.
PMCID: PMC2532688  PMID: 18717989
22.  Achieving Population-Level Immunity to Rabies in Free-Roaming Dogs in Africa and Asia 
Canine rabies can be effectively controlled by vaccination with readily available, high-quality vaccines. These vaccines should provide protection from challenge in healthy dogs, for the claimed period, for duration of immunity, which is often two or three years. It has been suggested that, in free-roaming dog populations where rabies is endemic, vaccine-induced protection may be compromised by immuno-suppression through malnutrition, infection and other stressors. This may reduce the proportion of dogs that seroconvert to the vaccine during vaccination campaigns and the duration of immunity of those dogs that seroconvert. Vaccination coverage may also be limited through insufficient vaccine delivery during vaccination campaigns and the loss of vaccinated individuals from populations through demographic processes. This is the first longitudinal study to evaluate temporal variations in rabies vaccine-induced serological responses, and factors associated with these variations, at the individual level in previously unvaccinated free-roaming dog populations. Individual-level serological and health-based data were collected from three cohorts of dogs in regions where rabies is endemic, one in South Africa and two in Indonesia. We found that the vast majority of dogs seroconverted to the vaccine; however, there was considerable variation in titres, partly attributable to illness and lactation at the time of vaccination. Furthermore, >70% of the dogs were vaccinated through community engagement and door-to-door vaccine delivery, even in Indonesia where the majority of the dogs needed to be caught by net on successive occasions for repeat blood sampling and vaccination. This demonstrates the feasibility of achieving population-level immunity in free-roaming dog populations in rabies-endemic regions. However, attrition of immune individuals through demographic processes and waning immunity necessitates repeat vaccination of populations within at least two years to ensure communities are protected from rabies. These findings support annual mass vaccination campaigns as the most effective means to control canine rabies.
Author Summary
Canine-mediated rabies is a horrific disease that claims tens of thousands of human lives every year, particularly in Asia and Africa. The disease can be effectively controlled through mass vaccination of dogs with high-quality vaccines; however, questions remain over the effectiveness of vaccination where the health status of free-roaming dogs may be compromised and the life expectancy and access to these dogs may be limited. This study evaluated rabies-vaccine induced immune responses and vaccine delivery in previously unvaccinated, free-roaming dog populations in two rabies endemic regions in Asia and Africa, to better understand the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns. We found that the majority of dogs seroconverted to the vaccine regardless of health status. Excellent vaccination coverage was achieved through community engagement and door-to-door vaccine delivery, even where the majority of the dogs needed to be caught by net for vaccination. However, attrition of immune individuals through demographic processes and waning immunity reinforces the importance of frequent and regular vaccination campaigns to ensure effective vaccination coverage is maintained.
PMCID: PMC4230884  PMID: 25393023
23.  Cellular immune response following pre-exposure and postexposure rabies vaccination by intradermal and intramuscular routes 
Immunization against rabies in humans induces protective neutralizing antibodies; however, the induction of type 1 or type 2 cytokine mediated cellular immune responses following rabies vaccination is not understood. Hence, the present study investigated cellular cytokine responses in vaccinated individuals.
Materials and Methods
The study groups included healthy rabies antigen naive controls (n=10), individuals who received intradermal primary (n=10) or booster pre-exposure vaccination (n=20) and subjects who received postexposure rabies vaccination either by intradermal (n=18) or intramuscular (n=20) routes. The antigen specific cellular responses were analyzed by stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells with a rabies vaccine antigen in the interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay. These responses were compared to the rabies virus neutralizing antibody (RVNA) titers that were measured by rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test.
We observed that cellular and humoral immune responses to primary intradermal rabies vaccination could be greatly enhanced by a booster vaccine; and both type 1 and type 2 cytokine responses were significantly elevated. The magnitude of type 1 and type 2 cytokine responses did not differ significantly among the intramuscular and intradermal routes of postexposure vaccination. The number of cells producing IFN-γ and IL-4 correlated significantly with the levels of RVNA.
Both type 1 and type 2 cellular cytokine responses are strongly induced after rabies vaccination and directly correlate with levels of RVNA titers. The neutralizing antibody as well as the type 1 and type 2 cytokine responses may be important for vaccine induced protective responses against rabies.
PMCID: PMC4313111  PMID: 25649188
Rabies; Rabies prophylaxis; Rabies vaccines; IFN gamma; IL4; Immune response
24.  Antibody Quality and Protection from Lethal Ebola Virus Challenge in Nonhuman Primates Immunized with Rabies Virus Based Bivalent Vaccine 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(5):e1003389.
We have previously described the generation of a novel Ebola virus (EBOV) vaccine platform based on (a) replication-competent rabies virus (RABV), (b) replication-deficient RABV, or (c) chemically inactivated RABV expressing EBOV glycoprotein (GP). Mouse studies demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy of these live or inactivated RABV/EBOV vaccines. Here, we evaluated these vaccines in nonhuman primates. Our results indicate that all three vaccines do induce potent immune responses against both RABV and EBOV, while the protection of immunized animals against EBOV was largely dependent on the quality of humoral immune response against EBOV GP. We also determined if the induced antibodies against EBOV GP differ in their target, affinity, or the isotype. Our results show that IgG1-biased humoral responses as well as high levels of GP-specific antibodies were beneficial for the control of EBOV infection after immunization. These results further support the concept that a successful EBOV vaccine needs to induce strong antibodies against EBOV. We also showed that a dual vaccine against RABV and filoviruses is achievable; therefore addressing concerns for the marketability of this urgently needed vaccine.
Author Summary
Ebola virus (EBOV) has been associated with outbreaks in human and nonhuman primate populations since 1976. With a fatality rate approaching 90%, EBOV is one of the most lethal infectious diseases in humans. The increased frequency of EBOV outbreaks along with its potential to be used as a bioterrorism agent has dramatically strengthened filovirus vaccine research and development. While there are currently no approved vaccines or post exposure treatments available for human use, several vaccine candidates have shown to protect nonhuman primates from lethal EBOV challenge. Our primary focus is to develop vaccine candidates to protect humans and endangered wildlife species at risk of infection in Africa. Here, we evaluated the efficacy and immunogenicity of our dual vaccines against EBOV and rabies virus (RABV) in rhesus macaques. Our live replication-competent vaccine provided 100% protection following EBOV challenge while the replication-deficient and inactivated candidates provided 50% protection. Interestingly, protection is dependent on the quality of the antibodies rather than the quantity. All three RABV-based EBOV vaccines did induce antibody levels necessary for protection from RABV infection. These results encourage the further development of these novel dual vaccines directed against two of the most lethal viral diseases.
PMCID: PMC3667758  PMID: 23737747
25.  The development and use of a vaccinia-rabies recombinant oral vaccine for the control of wildlife rabies; a link between Jenner and Pasteur. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1996;116(3):235-240.
To improve both safety and stability of the oral vaccines used in the field to vaccinate foxes against rabies, a recombinant vaccinia virus, which expresses the immunizing G protein of rabies virus has been developed by inserting the cDNA which codes for the immunogenic glycoprotein of rabies virus into the thymidine kinase (TK) gene of the Copenhagen strain of vaccinia virus. The efficacy of this vaccine was tested by the oral route, primarily in foxes. The immunity conferred, a minimum of 12 months in cubs and 18 months in adult animals, corresponds to the duration of the protection required for vaccination of foxes in the field. Innocuity was tested in foxes, domestic animals, and in numerous European wild animal species that could compete with the red fox for the vaccine bait. No clinical signs or lesions were observed in any of the vaccinated animals during a minimum of 28 days post vaccination. Moreover, no transmission of immunizing doses of the recombinant occurred between foxes or other species tested. To study the stability of the vaccine strain, baits containing the vaccine were placed in the field. Despite considerable variations of environmental temperatures, the vaccine remained stable for at least one month. Because bait is taken within one month, it can be assumed that most animals taking the baits are effectively vaccinated. To test the field efficacy of the recombinant vaccine, large-scale campaigns of fox vaccination were set up in a 2200 km2 region of southern Belgium, were rabies was prevalent. A dramatic decrease in the incidence of rabies was noted after the campaigns. The recombinant is presently used to control wildlife rabies in the field both in several European countries and in the United States.
PMCID: PMC2271442  PMID: 8666066

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