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Recombinant Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara (MVA) Vaccines Efficiently Protect Cockatiels Against Parrot Bornavirus Infection and Proventricular Dilatation Disease

Parrot bornaviruses (PaBVs) are the causative agents of proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), a chronic and often fatal neurologic disorder in Psittaciformes. The disease is widely distributed in private parrot collections and threatens breeding populations of endangered species. Thus, immunoprophylaxis strategies are urgently needed. In previous studies we demonstrated a prime-boost vaccination regime using modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) and Newcastle disease virus (NDV) constructs expressing the nucleoprotein and phosphoprotein of PaBV-4 (MVA/PaBV-4 and NDV/PaBV-4, respectively) to protect cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) against experimental challenge infection. Here we investigated the protective effect provided by repeated immunization with either MVA/PaBV-4, NDV/PaBV-4 or Orf virus constructs (ORFV/PaBV-4) individually. While MVA/PaBV-4-vaccinated cockatiels were completely protected against subsequent PaBV-2 challenge infection and PDD-associated lesions, the course of the challenge infection in NDV/PaBV-4- or ORFV/PaBV-4-vaccinated birds did not differ from the unvaccinated control group. We further investigated the effect of vaccination on persistently PaBV-4-infected cockatiels. Remarkably, subsequent immunization with MVA/PaBV-4 and NDV/PaBV-4 neither induced obvious immunopathogenesis exacerbating the disease nor reduced viral loads in the infected birds. In summary, we demonstrated that vaccination with MVA/PaBV-4 alone is sufficient to efficiently prevent PaBV-2 challenge infection in cockatiels, providing a suitable vaccine candidate against avian bornavirus infection and bornavirus-induced PDD.

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