The immune system must overcome daily challenges from pathogens to protect the body from infection. The success of the immune response to infection relies on the ability to sense and evaluate microbial threats and organize their elimination, while limiting damage to host tissues. This delicate balance is achieved through coordinated action of the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Aging results in several structural and functional changes in the immune system, often described under the umbrella term “immune senescence”. Age-related changes affect both the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system and are believed to result in increased susceptibility and severity of infectious diseases, which is further exacerbated by reduced vaccine efficacy in the elderly. Therefore, multiple strategies to improve immune function in the aged are being investigated. Traditionally, studies on immune senescence are conducted using inbred specific pathogen free (SPF) rodents. This animal model has provided invaluable insight into the mechanisms of aging. However, the limited genetic heterogeneity and the SPF status of this model restrict the successful transfer of immunological discoveries between murine models and the clinical setting. More recently, nonhuman primates (NHPs) have emerged as a leading translational model to investigate immune senescence and to test interventions aimed at delaying/reversing age-related changes in immune function. In this article, we review and summarize advances in immuno-restorative approaches investigated in the NHP model system and discuss where the NHP model can support the development of novel therapeutics.
Immune senescence; Nonhuman primates; Cytokine; Caloric restriction; Hormones
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a neurotropic alphaherpesvirus that causes chickenpox during primary infection and establishes latency in sensory ganglia. Infection of rhesus macaques (RM) with the homologous simian varicella virus (SVV) recapitulates hallmarks of VZV infection. We have shown that an antisense transcript of SVV open reading frame 61 (ORF61), a viral transactivator, was detected most frequently in latently infected RM sensory ganglia. In this study, we compared disease progression, viral replication, immune response, and the establishment of latency following intrabronchial infection with a recombinant SVV lacking ORF61 (SVVΔORF61) to those following infection with wild-type (WT) SVV. Varicella severity and viral latency within sensory ganglia were comparable in RMs infected with SVVΔORF61 and WT SVV. In contrast, viral loads, B and T cell responses, and plasma inflammatory cytokine levels were decreased in RMs infected with SVVΔORF61. To investigate the mechanisms underlying the reduced adaptive immune response, we compared acute SVV gene expression, frequency and proliferation of dendritic cell (DC) subsets, and the expression of innate antiviral genes in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples. The abundance of SVV transcripts in all kinetic classes was significantly decreased in RMs infected with SVVΔORF61. In addition, we detected a higher frequency and proliferation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in BAL fluid at 3 days postinfection in RMs infected with SVVΔORF61, which was accompanied by a slight increase in type I interferon gene expression. Taken together, our data suggest that ORF61 plays an important role in orchestrating viral gene expression in vivo and interferes with the host antiviral interferon response.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging mosquito-borne Alphavirus that causes a clinical disease involving fever, myalgia, nausea and rash. The distinguishing feature of CHIKV infection is the severe debilitating poly-arthralgia that may persist for several months after viral clearance. Since its re-emergence in 2004, CHIKV has spread from the Indian Ocean region to new locations including metropolitan Europe, Japan, and even the United States. The risk of importing CHIKV to new areas of the world is increasing due to high levels of viremia in infected individuals as well as the recent adaptation of the virus to the mosquito species Aedes albopictus. CHIKV re-emergence is also associated with new clinical complications including severe morbidity and, for the first time, mortality. In this study, we characterized disease progression and host immune responses in adult and aged Rhesus macaques infected with either the recent CHIKV outbreak strain La Reunion (LR) or the West African strain 37997. Our results indicate that following intravenous infection and regardless of the virus used, Rhesus macaques become viremic between days 1–5 post infection. While adult animals are able to control viral infection, aged animals show persistent virus in the spleen. Virus-specific T cell responses in the aged animals were reduced compared to adult animals and the B cell responses were also delayed and reduced in aged animals. Interestingly, regardless of age, T cell and antibody responses were more robust in animals infected with LR compared to 37997 CHIKV strain. Taken together these data suggest that the reduced immune responses in the aged animals promotes long-term virus persistence in CHIKV-LR infected Rhesus monkeys.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging Alphavirus that has caused recent massive outbreaks in the Indian Ocean region. In addition, outbreaks have been documented in Europe and elsewhere in the world, initiated by infected travelers returning to their homelands. The recent outbreak strains possess extended vector range and as such, raise the potential of CHIKV outbreaks in the Southeastern parts of the United States. In this study, we examined CHIKV immunity in adult and aged Rhesus macaques following infection with two different CHIKV strains (recent outbreak strain CHIKV-LR and a West African Strain CHIKV-37997). CHIKV-LR causes persistent infection in the aged animals and replicates, on average, to higher levels than CHIKV-37997. Irrespective of the viral strain used, aged animals had delayed and/or reduced immunity compared to adult animals. Our data support the clinical findings of CHIKV susceptibility in vulnerable populations including the aged and provide mechanistic evidence that an effective immune response directed against the virus is required for preventing persistent CHIKV infection.
Non-human primates, notably rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta, RM), provide a robust experimental model to investigate the immune response to and effective control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections. Changes in the function of immune cells and immunosenescence may contribute to the increased susceptibility of the elderly to tuberculosis. The goal of this study was to examine the impact of age on M. tuberculosis host-pathogen interactions following infection of primary alveolar macrophages derived from young and aged rhesus macaques. Of specific interest to us was whether the mycobactericidal capacity of autophagic macrophages was reduced in older animals since decreased autophagosome formation and autophagolysosomal fusion has been observed in other cells types of aged animals. Our data demonstrate that alveolar macrophages from old RM are as competent as those from young animals for autophagic clearance of M. tuberculosis infection and controlling mycobacterial replication. While our data do not reveal significant differences between alveolar macrophage responses to M. tuberculosis by young and old animals, these studies are the first to functionally characterize autophagic clearance of M. tuberculosis by alveolar macrophages from RM.
Oxidation of LDL (oxLDL) is a crucial step in the development of cardiovascular disease. Treatment with antibodies directed against oxLDL can reduce atherosclerosis in rodent models through unknown mechanisms. We demonstrate that through a novel mechanism of immune complex formation and Fc-γ receptor (FcγR) engagement, antibodies targeting oxLDL (MLDL1278a) are anti-inflammatory on innate immune cells via modulation of Syk, p38 MAPK phosphorylation and NFκB activity. Subsequent administration of MLDL1278a in diet-induced obese (DIO) nonhuman primates (NHP) resulted in a significant decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines and improved overall immune cell function. Importantly, MLDL1278a treatment improved insulin sensitivity independent of body weight change. This study demonstrates a novel mechanism by which an anti-oxLDL antibody improves immune function and insulin sensitivity independent of internalization of oxLDL. This identifies MLDL1278a as a potential therapy for reducing vascular inflammation in diabetic conditions.
Nonhuman primate; Obesity; Atherosclerosis; ox-LDL; Inflammation; Diabetes
Alcoholics have alterations in endocrine and immune function and increased susceptibility to stress-related disorders. A longitudinal analysis of chronic ethanol intake on homeostatic mechanisms is, however, incompletely characterized in primates.
Plasma proteins (n = 60; Luminex) and hormones (adrenocorticotropic hormone, ACTH; cortisol) were repeatedly measured in adult male cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis, n = 10) during a 32-month experimental protocol at baseline, during induction of water and ethanol (4% w/v in water) self-administration, after 4 months and after 12 months of 22-h daily concurrent access to ethanol and water.
Significant changes were observed in ACTH, cortisol and 45/60 plasma proteins: a majority (28/45) were suppressed as a function of ethanol self-administration, eight proteins were elevated and nine showed biphasic changes. Cortisol and ACTH were greatest during induction, and correlations between these hormones and plasma proteins varied across the experiment. Pathway analyses implicated nuclear factor κ-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) and Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) as possible mediators of ethanol-induced effects on immune-related proteins in primates.
Chronic ethanol consumption in primates leads to an allostatic state of physiological compromise with respect to circulating immune- and stress-related proteins in NF-κB- and STAT/JAK-related pathways in correlation with altered endocrine activity.
non-human primates; ethanol; Luminex; adrenocorticotropic hormone; cortisol
Cytomegaloviruses manipulate the host chemokine/receptor axis by altering cellular chemokine expression and by encoding multiple chemokines and chemokine receptors. Similar to human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) encodes multiple CC chemokine-analogous proteins, including r129 (HCMV UL128 homologue) and r131 (HCMV UL130 and MCMV m129/130 homologues). Although these proteins play a role in CMV entry, their function as chemotactic cytokines remains unknown. In the current study, we examined the role of the RCMV chemokine r129 in promoting cellular migration and in accelerating transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS) in our rat heart transplant model. We determined that r129 protein is released into culture supernatants of infected cells and is expressed with late viral gene kinetics during RCMV infection and highly expressed in heart and salivary glands during in vivo rat infections. Using the recombinant r129 protein, we demonstrated that r129 induces migration of lymphocytes isolated from rat peripheral blood, spleen, and bone marrow and from a rat macrophage cell line. Using antibody-mediated cell sorting of rat splenocytes, we demonstrated that r129 induces migration of naïve/central memory CD4+ T cells. Through ligand-binding assays, we determined that r129 binds rat CC chemokine receptors CCR3, CCR4, CCR5, and CCR7. In addition, mutational analyses identified functional domains of r129 resulting in recombinant proteins that fail to induce migration (r129-ΔNT and -C31A) or alter the chemotactic ability of the chemokine (r129-F43A). Two of the mutant proteins (r129-C31A and -ΔNT) also act as dominant negatives by inhibiting migration induced by wild-type r129. Furthermore, infection of rat heart transplant recipients with RCMV containing the r129-ΔNT mutation prevented CMV-induced acceleration of TVS. Together our findings indicate that RCMV r129 is highly chemotactic, which has important implications during RCMV infection and reactivation and acceleration of TVS.
In contrast to seasonal influenza virus infections, which typically cause significant morbidity and mortality in the elderly, the 2009 H1N1 virus caused severe infection in young adults. This phenomenon was attributed to the presence of cross-protective antibodies acquired by older individuals during previous exposures to H1N1 viruses. However, this hypothesis could not be empirically tested. To address this question, we compared viral replication and the development of the immune response in naïve young adult and aged female rhesus macaques infected with A/California/04/2009 H1N1 (CA04) virus. We show higher viral loads in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and nasal and ocular swabs in aged animals, suggesting increased viral replication in both the lower and upper respiratory tracts. T cell proliferation was higher in the BAL fluid but delayed and reduced in peripheral blood in aged animals. This delay in proliferation correlated with a reduced frequency of effector CD4 T cells in old animals. Aged animals also mobilized inflammatory cytokines to higher levels in the BAL fluid. Finally, we compared changes in gene expression using microarray analysis of BAL fluid samples. Our analyses revealed that the largest difference in host response between aged and young adult animals was detected at day 4 postinfection, with a significantly higher induction of genes associated with inflammation and the innate immune response in aged animals. Overall, our data suggest that, in the absence of preexisting antibodies, CA04 infection in aged macaques is associated with changes in innate and adaptive immune responses that were shown to correlate with increased disease severity in other respiratory disease models.
In nonhuman primates, anxiety levels are typically assessed by observing social hierarchies or behavior in an intruder task. As measures of anxiety might influence performance on a particular cognitive task, it is important to analyze these measures in the same room as used for the cognitive task. As we use a playroom for the spatial maze test, we classified elderly female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) monkeys, as bold or reserved monkeys based on the time spent in specific areas of this room. Based on their exploratory behavior in the playroom, bold monkeys were defined as animals that spent 20% more time in the unprotected areas of the room than in the protected areas, whereas reserved monkeys spent a comparable amount of time in both areas. MRI analyses showed that reserved monkeys had a smaller amygdala compared to bold monkeys but there were no group differences in hippocampal volumes. In addition, the amount of time spent in the corners of the room was negatively correlated with the right and total amygdala size. Finally, reserved monkeys showed a lower phMRI response to the muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine compared to the bold monkeys. Thus, in elderly female nonhuman primates measures of anxiety are associated with structural amygdala differences and hippocampal muscarinic receptor function.
anxiety; nonhuman primate; amygdala; hippocampus; scopolamine; phMRI
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a neurotropic α-herpesvirus that causes chickenpox during primary infection and establishes latency in sensory ganglia. Reactivation of VZV results in herpes zoster and other neurological complications. Our understanding of the VZV transcriptome during acute and latent infection in immune competent individuals remains incomplete. Infection of rhesus macaques with the homologous simian varicella virus (SVV) recapitulates the hallmarks of VZV infection. We therefore characterized the SVV transcriptome by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR) during acute infection in bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL) cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), and during latency in sensory ganglia obtained from the same rhesus macaques. During acute infection, all known SVV open reading frames (ORFs) were detected and the most abundantly expressed ORFs are involved in virus replication and assembly such as the transcriptional activator ORF 63 and the structural proteins ORF 41 and ORF 49. In contrast, latent SVV gene expression is highly restricted. ORF 61, a viral transactivator and latency-associated transcript, is the most prevalent transcript detected in sensory ganglia. We also detected ORFs A, B, 4, 10, 63, 64, 65, 66 and 68 though significantly less frequently than ORF 61. This comprehensive analysis has revealed genes that potentially play a role in the establishment and/or maintenance of SVV latency.
Herpesvirus; simian varicella virus; gene expression; latency; rhesus macaque
Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is associated with the acceleration of transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS) and chronic allograft rejection (CR). HCMV-negative recipients of latently HCMV infected donor grafts are at highest risk for developing CMV-disease. Using a rat heart transplant CR model, we have previously shown that acute rat CMV (RCMV) infection following transplantation significantly accelerates both TVS and CR. Here, we report that RCMV-naïve recipients of heart allografts from latently RCMV-infected donors undergo acceleration of CR with similar kinetics as acutely infected recipients. In contrast to acutely infected recipients, treatment of recipients of latently infected donor hearts with ganciclovir did not prevent CR or TVS. We observed the formation of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLOs) containing macrophages and T-cells in latently infected hearts prior to transplantation but not in uninfected rats. Moreover, pathway analysis of gene expression data from allografts from latently infected donors, indicated an early and sustained production of TLO-associated genes compared to allografts from uninfected donors. We conclude that RCMV-induced TLO formation and alteration of donor tissue T-cell profiles prior to transplantation in part mediate the ganciclovir-insensitive rejection of latently infected donor allografts transplanted into naïve recipients by providing a scaffold for immune activation.
Cytomegalovirus; Chronic Rejection; Transplant Vascular Sclerosis; Latency
Primary clinical isolates of yellow fever virus can be difficult to quantitate by standard in vitro methods because they may not form discernable plaques or induce a measurable cytopathic effect (CPE) on cell monolayers. In our hands, the Dakar strain of yellow fever virus (YFV-Dakar) could not be measured by plaque assay (PA), focus-forming assay (FFA), or by measurement of CPE. For these reasons, we developed a YFV-specific monoclonal antibody (3A8.B6) and used it to optimize a highly sensitive flow cytometry-based tissue culture limiting dilution assay (TC-LDA) to measure levels of infectious virus. The TC-LDA was performed by incubating serial dilutions of virus in replicate wells of C6/36 cells and stained intracellularly for virus with MAb 3A8.B6. Using this approach, we could reproducibly quantitate YFV-Dakar in tissue culture supernatants as well as from the serum of viremic rhesus macaques experimentally infected with YFV-Dakar. Moreover, the TC-LDA approach was >10-fold more sensitive than standard plaque assay for quantitating typical plaque-forming strains of YFV including YFV-17D and YFV-FNV (French neurotropic vaccine). Together, these results indicate that the TC-LDA technique is effective for quantitating both plaque-forming and non-plaque-forming strains of yellow fever virus, and this methodology may be readily adapted for the study and quantitation of other non-plaque-forming viruses.
Aging is associated with a general dysregulation in immune function, commonly referred to as “immune senescence”. Several studies have shown that female sex steroids can modulate the immune response. However, the impact of menopause-associated loss of estrogen and progestins on immune senescence remains poorly understood. To help answer this question, we examined the effect of ovariectomy on T-cell homeostasis and function in adult and aged female rhesus macaques. Our data show that in adult female rhesus macaques, ovariectomy increased the frequency of naïve CD4 T cells. In contrast, ovariectomized (ovx) aged female rhesus macaques had increased frequency of terminally differentiated CD4 effector memory T cells and inflammatory cytokine-secreting memory T cells. Moreover, ovariectomy reduced the immune response (T-cell cytokine and IgG production) following vaccination with modified vaccinia ankara in both adult and aged female rhesus macaques compared to ovary-intact age-matched controls. Interestingly, hormone therapy (estradiol alone or in conjunction with progesterone) partially improved the T-cell response to vaccination in aged ovariectomized female rhesus macaques. These data suggest that the loss of ovarian steroids, notably estradiol and progesterone, may contribute to reduced immune function in post-menopausal women and that hormone therapy may improve immune response to vaccination in this growing segment of the population.
Aging; Immune senescence; Ovariectomy; T cells; Vaccine; Estrogen; Progestin
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and the closely related gamma-2 herpesvirus rhesus macaque (RM) rhadinovirus (RRV) are the only known viruses to encode viral homologues of the cellular interferon (IFN) regulatory factors (IRFs). Recent characterization of a viral IRF (vIRF) deletion clone of RRV (vIRF-knockout RRV [vIRF-ko RRV]) demonstrated that vIRFs inhibit induction of type I and type II IFNs during RRV infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Because the IFN response is a key component to a host's antiviral defenses, this study has investigated the role of vIRFs in viral replication and the development of the immune response during in vivo infection in RMs, the natural host of RRV. Experimental infection of RMs with vIRF-ko RRV resulted in decreased viral loads and diminished B cell hyperplasia, a characteristic pathology during acute RRV infection that often develops into more severe lymphoproliferative disorders in immune-compromised animals, similar to pathologies in KSHV-infected individuals. Moreover, in vivo infection with vIRF-ko RRV resulted in earlier and sustained production of proinflammatory cytokines and earlier induction of an anti-RRV T cell response compared to wild-type RRV infection. These findings reveal the broad impact that vIRFs have on pathogenesis and the immune response in vivo and are the first to validate the importance of vIRFs during de novo infection in the host.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and rhesus macaque rhadinovirus (RRV), two closely related gammaherpesviruses, are unique in their expression of viral homologs of cellular interferon regulatory factors (IRFs), termed viral IRFs (vIRFs). To assess the role of vIRFs during de novo infection, we have utilized the bacterial artificial chromosome clone of wild-type RRV17577 (WTBAC RRV) to generate a recombinant virus with all 8 of the vIRFs deleted (vIRF-ko RRV). The infection of primary rhesus fibroblasts and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with vIRF-ko RRV resulted in earlier and increased induction of type I interferon (IFN) (IFN-α/β) and type II IFN (IFN-γ). Additionally, plasmacytoid dendritic cells maintained higher levels of IFN-α production in PBMC cultures infected with vIRF-ko RRV than in cultures infected with WTBAC RRV. Moreover, the nuclear accumulation of phosphorylated IRF-3, which is necessary for the induction of type I IFN, was also inhibited following WTBAC RRV infection. These findings demonstrate that during de novo RRV infection, vIRFs are inhibiting the induction of IFN at the transcriptional level, and one potential mechanism for this is the disruption of the activation and localization of IRF-3.
We recently reported that in aged female rhesus macaques, spatial learning and memory correlates with circadian sleep-wake measures and hippocampal muscarinic type 1 (M1) receptor binding. To investigate if spatial memory also correlates with measures of immune function, we now assessed the magnitude of the adaptive immune response to vaccination in the same old female rhesus macaques. Cognitively characterized animals were classified as good spatial performers (GSP) or poor spatial performers (PSP) based on performance in the Spatial Foodport maze. The GSP group had higher frequency of CD8, but not CD4, interferon-γ (IFN-γ) producing cells following vaccination compared to the PSP group, suggesting a stronger CD8 T cell response in the GSP group. In addition, the number of CD-8 IFN-γ positive cells correlated with measures of sleep quality. Interestingly, the PSP group had a significantly higher antibody titer compared to the GSP group, and antibody titer negatively correlated with day-time activity. Thus, in aged female rhesus macaques, superior cognitive performance is correlated with a more robust CD8 T cell response but a reduced antibody response to vaccination.
spatial learning and memory; immune senescence; circadian activity
Monkeypox virus (MPXV) is an orthopoxvirus closely related to variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox. Human MPXV infection results in a disease that is similar to smallpox and can also be fatal. Two clades of MPXV have been identified, with viruses of the central African clade displaying more pathogenic properties than those within the west African clade. The monkeypox inhibitor of complement enzymes (MOPICE), which is not expressed by viruses of the west African clade, has been hypothesized to be a main virulence factor responsible for increased pathogenic properties of central African strains of MPXV. To gain a better understanding of the role of MOPICE during MPXV-mediated disease, we compared the host adaptive immune response and disease severity following intrabronchial infection with MPXV-Zaire (n = 4), or a recombinant MPXV-Zaire (n = 4) lacking expression of MOPICE in rhesus macaques (RM). Data presented here demonstrate that infection of RM with MPXV leads to significant viral replication in the peripheral blood and lungs and results in the induction of a robust and sustained adaptive immune response against the virus. More importantly, we show that the loss of MOPICE expression results in enhanced viral replication in vivo, as well as a dampened adaptive immune response against MPXV. Taken together, these findings suggest that MOPICE modulates the anti-MPXV immune response and that this protein is not the sole virulence factor of the central African clade of MPXV.
Nonhuman primates have been used for biomedical research for several decades. The high level of genetic homology to humans coupled with their outbred nature has made nonhuman primates invaluable preclinical models. In this review, we summarize recent advances in our understanding of the nonhuman primate immune system, with special emphasis on studies carried out in rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). We highlight the utility of nonhuman primates in the characterization of immune senescence and the evaluation of new interventions to slow down the aging of the immune system. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 261–273.
Aged individuals are more susceptible to infections due to a general decline in immune function broadly referred to as immune senescence. While age-related changes in the adaptive immune system are well documented, aging of the innate immune system remains less well understood, particularly in nonhuman primates. A more robust understanding of age-related changes in innate immune function would provide mechanistic insight into the increased susceptibility of the elderly to infection. Rhesus macaques have proved a critical translational model for aging research, and present a unique opportunity to dissect age-dependent modulation of the innate immune system. We examined age-related changes in: (i) innate immune cell frequencies; (ii) expression of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and innate signaling molecules; (iii) cytokine responses of monocytes and dendritic cells (DC) following stimulation with PRR agonists; and (iv) plasma cytokine levels in this model. We found marked changes in both the phenotype and function of innate immune cells. This included an age-associated increased frequency of myeloid DC (mDC). Moreover, we found toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists lipopolysaccharide (TLR4), fibroblast stimulating ligand-1 (TLR2/6), and ODN2006 (TLR7/9) induced reduced cytokine responses in aged mDC. Interestingly, with the exception of the monocyte-derived TNFα response to LPS, which increased with age, TNFα, IL-6, and IFNα responses declined with age. We also found that TLR4, TLR5, and innate negative regulator, sterile alpha and TIR motif containing protein (SARM), were all expressed at lower levels in young animals. By contrast, absent in melanoma 2 and retinoic acid-inducible gene I expression was lowest in aged animals. Together, these observations indicate that several parameters of innate immunity are significantly modulated by age and contribute to differential immune function in aged macaques.
nonhuman primate; innate immunity; myeloid; immune senscence; pattern recognition receptor
Primary infection with varicella zoster virus (VZV) results in varicella (more commonly known as chickenpox) after which VZV establishes latency in sensory ganglia. VZV can reactivate to cause herpes zoster (shingles), a debilitating disease that affects one million individuals in the US alone annually. Current vaccines against varicella (Varivax) and herpes zoster (Zostavax) are not 100% efficacious. Specifically, studies have shown that 1 dose of varivax can lead to breakthrough varicella, albeit rarely, in children and a 2-dose regimen is now recommended. Similarly, although Zostavax results in a 50% reduction in HZ cases, a significant number of recipients remain at risk. To design more efficacious vaccines, we need a better understanding of the immune response to VZV. Clinical observations suggest that T cell immunity plays a more critical role in the protection against VZV primary infection and reactivation. However, no studies to date have directly tested this hypothesis due to the scarcity of animal models that recapitulate the immune response to VZV. We have recently shown that SVV infection of rhesus macaques models the hallmarks of primary VZV infection in children. In this study, we used this model to experimentally determine the role of CD4, CD8 and B cell responses in the resolution of primary SVV infection in unvaccinated animals. Data presented in this manuscript show that while CD20 depletion leads to a significant delay and decrease in the antibody response to SVV, loss of B cells does not alter the severity of varicella or the kinetics/magnitude of the T cell response. Loss of CD8 T cells resulted in slightly higher viral loads and prolonged viremia. In contrast, CD4 depletion led to higher viral loads, prolonged viremia and disseminated varicella. CD4 depleted animals also had delayed and reduced antibody and CD8 T cell responses. These results are similar to clinical observations that children with agammaglobulinemia have uncomplicated varicella whereas children with T cell deficiencies are at increased risk of progressive varicella with significant complications. Moreover, our studies indicate that CD4 T cell responses to SVV play a more critical role than antibody or CD8 T cell responses in the control of primary SVV infection and suggest that one potential mechanism for enhancing the efficacy of VZV vaccines is by eliciting robust CD4 T cell responses.
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox and establishes a life-long latent infection in humans. VZV can reactivate years later to cause shingles, a debilitating and painful disease. Vaccines against both chickenpox and shingles are available but not 100% efficacious. Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine are required to provide adequate protection and the shingles vaccine reduces the incidence of this disease by 51%. To improve these vaccines, we must identify the components of the immune system that are important for the control of VZV replication. However, the contribution of T versus B cell responses is unknown. Infection of rhesus macaques with simian varicella virus is a robust model of VZV infection. Here, we used this unique animal model to show for the first time that the absence of B cells does not alter disease severity and that the loss of CD8 T cells only results in a mild increase in disease severity. In sharp contrast, the lack of CD4 T cells leads to disseminated varicella. These data highlight the importance of CD4 T cells and suggest that novel vaccines that focus on engendering a more robust CD4 T cell response against VZV might provide better protection from chickenpox and shingles.
Aging is accompanied by a general dysregulation in immune system function, commonly referred to as ‘immune senescence’. This progressive deterioration affects both innate and adaptive immunity, although accumulating evidence indicates that the adaptive arm of the immune system may exhibit more profound changes. Most of our current understanding of immune senescence stems from clinical and rodent studies. More recently, the use of nonhuman primates (NHPs) to investigate immune senescence and test interventions aimed at delaying/reversing age-related changes in immune function has dramatically increased. These studies have been greatly facilitated by several key advances in our understanding of the immune system of old-world monkeys, specifically the rhesus macaques. In this review we describe the hallmarks of immune senescence in this species and compare them to those described in humans. We also discuss the impact of immune senescence on the response to vaccination and the efficacy of immuno-restorative interventions investigated in this model system.
The lifelong infection by varicelloviruses is characterized by a fine balance between the host immune response and immune evasion strategies used by these viruses. Virus-derived peptides are presented to cytotoxic T lymphocytes by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) transports the peptides from the cytosol into the endoplasmic reticulum, where the loading of MHC-I molecules occurs. The varicelloviruses bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1), pseudorabies virus, and equid herpesviruses 1 and 4 have been found to encode a UL49.5 protein that inhibits TAP-mediated peptide transport. To investigate to what extent UL49.5-mediated TAP inhibition is conserved within the family of Alphaherpesvirinae, the homologs of another five varicelloviruses, one mardivirus, and one iltovirus were studied. The UL49.5 proteins of BoHV-5, bubaline herpesvirus 1, cervid herpesvirus 1, and felid herpesvirus 1 were identified as potent TAP inhibitors. The varicella-zoster virus and simian varicellovirus UL49.5 proteins fail to block TAP; this is not due to the absence of viral cofactors that might assist in this process, since cells infected with these viruses did not show reduced TAP function either. The UL49.5 homologs of the mardivirus Marek's disease virus 1 and the iltovirus infectious laryngotracheitis virus did not block TAP, suggesting that the capacity to inhibit TAP via UL49.5 has been acquired by varicelloviruses only. A phylogenetic analysis of viruses that inhibit TAP through their UL49.5 proteins reveals an interesting hereditary pattern, pointing toward the presence of this capacity in defined clades within the genus Varicellovirus.
Human outbreaks of Ebola virus (EBOV) are a serious human health concern in Central Africa. Great apes (gorillas/chimpanzees) are an important source of EBOV transmission to humans due to increased hunting of wildlife including the ‘bush-meat’ trade. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is an highly immunogenic virus that has shown recent utility as a vaccine platform. CMV-based vaccines also have the unique potential to re-infect and disseminate through target populations regardless of prior CMV immunity, which may be ideal for achieving high vaccine coverage in inaccessible populations such as great apes.
We hypothesize that a vaccine strategy using CMV-based vectors expressing EBOV antigens may be ideally suited for use in inaccessible wildlife populations. To establish a ‘proof-of-concept’ for CMV-based vaccines against EBOV, we constructed a mouse CMV (MCMV) vector expressing a CD8+ T cell epitope from the nucleoprotein (NP) of Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) (MCMV/ZEBOV-NPCTL). MCMV/ZEBOV-NPCTL induced high levels of long-lasting (>8 months) CD8+ T cells against ZEBOV NP in mice. Importantly, all vaccinated animals were protected against lethal ZEBOV challenge. Low levels of anti-ZEBOV antibodies were only sporadically detected in vaccinated animals prior to ZEBOV challenge suggesting a role, at least in part, for T cells in protection.
This study demonstrates the ability of a CMV-based vaccine approach to protect against an highly virulent human pathogen, and supports the potential for ‘disseminating’ CMV-based EBOV vaccines to prevent EBOV transmission in wildlife populations.
Human outbreaks of hemorrhagic disease caused by Ebola virus (EBOV) are a serious health concern in Central Africa. Great apes (gorillas/chimpanzees) are an important source of EBOV transmission to humans. Candidate EBOV vaccines do not spread from the initial vaccinee. In addition to being highly immunogenic, vaccines based on the cytomegalovirus (CMV) platform have the unique potential to re-infect and disseminate through target populations. To explore the utility of CMV-based vaccines against EBOV, we constructed a mouse CMV (MCMV) vector expressing a region of nucleoprotein (NP) of Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) (MCMV/ZEBOV-NPCTL). MCMV/ZEBOV-NPCTL induced high levels of long-lasting CD8+ T cells against ZEBOV NP in mice. Importantly, all vaccinated animals were protected against lethal ZEBOV challenge. The absence of ZEBOV neutralizing and only low, sporadic levels of total anti-ZEBOV IgG antibodies in protected animals prior to ZEBOV challenge indicate a role, albeit perhaps not exclusive, for CD8+ T cells in mediating protection. This study demonstrates the ability of a CMV-based vaccine approach to protect against ZEBOV, and provides a ‘proof-of-concept’ for the potential for a ‘disseminating’ CMV-based EBOV vaccine to prevent EBOV transmission in wild animal populations.