Cellular Immune Responses in Rainbow Trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss) Following Vaccination and Challenge Against Salmonid Alphavirus (SAV)
Viral disease outbreaks remain a significant limiting factor for aquaculture. The majority of licensed vaccines used in the industry are administered as oil-adjuvanted formulations carrying inactivated whole pathogens. Cell-mediated immune responses, in particular those based on virus-specific cytotoxic T-cells (CTLs) to conventional inactivated oil-based vaccines, are largely unexplored. As vaccines cannot be optimized against viral pathogens if knowledge of host cellular immune mechanisms remains unknown, in this study we examined fundamental cell-mediated immune responses after vaccination of rainbow trout with an oil-adjuvanted inactivated vaccine against salmonid alphavirus (SAV) and after infection with SAV. A unique in vitro model system was developed to examine MHC class I restricted CTL responses in a clonal line of rainbow trout. The levels of cell-mediated cytotoxicity were compared to pathology, virus load, specific antibody response, changes in immune cell populations, and mRNA expression. Our results hint that different protective mechanisms are being triggered by infection compared to vaccination. While vaccination itself did not cause a strong cytotoxic or humoral response, subsequent challenge of vaccinated fish resulted in significantly stronger and faster specific cytotoxicity, alongside reduced viral titers and pathology. Hence, testing a vaccine on the capacity to induce cell-mediated cytotoxicity will still require a challenge test. Examination of cellular markers additionally indicates that the initial innate response induced by the vaccine could play an important role in steering adaptive mechanisms.