Characterization of protective humoral and cellular immune responses against RHDV2 induced by a new vaccine based on recombinant baculovirus
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) is a lethal disease in rabbits caused by RHD virus (RHDV). Protection is only possible through vaccination. A new virus variant (RHDV2) which emerged in 2010 in France differed from the classical RHDV1 variant in certain aspects and vaccines against RHDV1 induced limited cross protection only. In a previous study, we designed a recombinant baculovirus based RHDV2-VP1 vaccine, which provided a protective immunity in rabbits against RHDV2. In the present study this newly created vaccine is characterized with regard to onset and duration of protection, and possible cross protection against classical RHDV1. Furthermore, humoral and cellular immune mechanisms in vaccinated and infected rabbits were analyzed. In all experiments, the recombinant vaccine was compared to a conventional liver-based RHDV2 vaccine. The RHDV2-VP1 vaccine induced a protective immune response already seven days after single vaccination and fully protected for at least 14 months. A booster vaccination 21 days after the first had a negative influence on long-term protection. The cross protection provided by the RHDV2-VP1 vaccine against classical RHDV1 was limited since only 50% of vaccinated rabbits survived the infection. Conclusively, the new, baculovirus-based RHDV2-VP1 vaccine has the potential to protect rabbits against the infection with RHDV2, blocks completely the disease progression and prevents the spread of RHDV2 at the population level.
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