Preconceptual Administration of an Alphavirus Replicon UL83 (pp65 Homolog) Vaccine Induces Humoral and Cellular Immunity and Improves Pregnancy Outcome in the Guinea Pig Model of Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection
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Development of a vaccine against congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a major public health priority. We report the use of a propagation-defective, single-cycle, RNA replicon vector system, derived from an attenuated strain of the alphavirus Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, to produce virus-like replicon particles (VRPs) expressing GP83, the guinea pig CMV (GPCMV) homolog of the human CMV pp65 phosphoprotein. Vaccination with VRP-GP83 induced antibodies and CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses in GPCMV-seronegative female guinea pigs. Guinea pigs immunized with VRP-GP83 vaccine or with a VRP vaccine expressing influenza hemagglutinin (VRP-HA) were bred for pregnancy and subsequent GPCMV challenge during the early third trimester. Dams vaccinated with VRP-GP83 had improved pregnancy outcomes, compared with dams vaccinated with the VRP-HA control. For VRP-GP83-vaccinated dams, there were 28 live pups and 4 dead pups (13% mortality) among 10 evaluable litters, compared with 9 live pups and 12 dead pups (57% mortality) among 8 evaluable litters in the VRP-HA-vaccinated group (P<.001, Fisher's exact test). Improved pregnancy outcome was accompanied by reductions in maternal blood viral load, measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. These results indicate that cell-mediated immune responses directed against a CMV matrix protein can protect against congenital CMV infection and disease.
author list (cited authors)
Schleiss, M. R., Lacayo, J. C., Belkaid, Y., McGregor, A., Stroup, G., Rayner, J., ... Smith, J. F.