Mahmood K, Bright RA, Mytle N, Carter DM, Crevar C. H5N1 VLP vaccine induced protection in ferrets against lethal challenge with highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza viruses. Vaccine. 2008 Aug 13
In this study, recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs) were evaluated as a candidate vaccine against emerging influenza viruses with pandemic potential. The VLPs are composed of the hemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), and matrix 1 (M1) proteins of the H5N1 A/Indonesia/05/2005 (clade 2.1; [Indo/05]) virus, which were expressed using baculovirus in Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) cells. Ferrets received either 2 injections of the VLP vaccine at escalating doses (based on HA content), recombinant HA, or were mock vaccinated. Vaccinated ferrets were then challenged with either H5N1 Indo/05 or H5N1 A/Viet Nam 1203/2004 (VN/04) wild-type viruses. All ferrets that received the VLP vaccine survived regardless of the VLP dose or challenge strain, whereas seven of eight mock vaccinated ferrets died. The VLP vaccine induced HAI antibodies against the homologous H5N1 clade 2.1 strain, as well as heterologous strains from H5N1 clades 1, 2.2, and 2.3. The magnitude of the HAI titers correlated with VLP dose. Neutralizing antibody responses against the Indo/05 and VN/04 strains showed a similar pattern. Affinity of the anti-HA antibodies raised by the H5N1 Indo/05 VLPs had a higher association rate to the homologous clade 2.1 HA than to the clade 1 (VN/04) HA; however, once bound, antibodies had similar slow disassociation rates. These results provide support for continued development of the H5N1 VLPs as a candidate vaccine against pandemic influenza. Exploration of immunologic correlates of protection for H5N1 vaccines beyond HAI and neutralizing antibody responses is warranted.
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