Intramuscular Immunization of Mice with the Live-Attenuated Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Vaccine Strain VC2 Expressing Equine Herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) Glycoprotein D Generates Anti-EHV-1 Immune Responses in Mice

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Vaccination remains the best option to combat equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) infection, and several different strategies of vaccination have been investigated and developed over the past few decades. Herein, we report that the live-attenuated herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) VC2 vaccine strain, which has been shown to be unable to enter into neurons and establish latency in mice, can be utilized as a vector for the heterologous expression of EHV-1 glycoprotein D (gD) and that the intramuscular immunization of mice results in strong antiviral humoral and cellular immune responses. The VC2-EHV-1-gD recombinant virus was constructed by inserting an EHV-1 gD expression cassette under the control of the cytomegalovirus immediate early promoter into the VC2 vector in place of the HSV-1 thymidine kinase (UL23) gene. The vaccines were introduced into mice through intramuscular injection. Vaccination with both the VC2-EHV-1-gD vaccine and the commercially available vaccine Vetera EHV 1/4 (Vetera; Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica) resulted in the production of neutralizing antibodies, the levels of which were significantly higher in comparison to those in VC2- and mock-vaccinated animals ( < 0.01 or < 0.001). Analysis of EHV-1-reactive IgG subtypes demonstrated that vaccination with the VC2-EHV-1-gD vaccine stimulated robust IgG1 and IgG2a antibodies after three vaccinations ( < 0.001). Interestingly, Vetera-vaccinated mice produced significantly higher levels of IgM than mice in the other groups before and after challenge ( < 0.01 or < 0.05). Vaccination with VC2-EHV-1-gD stimulated strong cellular immune responses, characterized by the upregulation of both interferon- and tumor necrosis factor-positive CD4 T cells and CD8 T cells. Overall, the data suggest that the HSV-1 VC2 vaccine strain may be used as a viral vector for the vaccination of horses as well as, potentially, for the vaccination of other economically important animals. A novel virus-vectored VC2-EHV-1-gD vaccine was constructed using the live-attenuated HSV-1 VC2 vaccine strain. This vaccine stimulated strong humoral and cellular immune responses in mice, suggesting that it could protect horses against EHV-1 infection.

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Journal of virology

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