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J Virol. 1992 Jan;66(1):548-53.

Identification of VP7 epitopes associated with protection against human rotavirus illness or shedding in volunteers.

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  • 1Epidemiology Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Sera from 17 of 18 adult volunteers challenged with a virulent serotype 1 rotavirus strain (D) were examined for prechallenge antibody levels against several well-defined rotavirus VP7 and VP4 neutralization epitopes by a competitive epitope-blocking immunoassay (EBA) in order to determine whether correlates of resistance to diarrheal illness could be identified. The presence of prechallenge serum antibody at a titer of greater than or equal to 1:20 that blocked the binding of a serotype 1 VP7-specific monoclonal antibody (designated 2C9) that maps to amino acid residue 94 in antigenic site A on the serotype 1 VP7 was significantly associated with resistance to illness or shedding (P less than 0.001) or illness and shedding (P less than 0.01) following challenge with the serotype 1 virus. In addition, an EBA antibody titer of greater than or equal to 1:20 in prechallenge serum against a serotype 3 VP7-specific epitope (defined by monoclonal antibody 954/159) that maps to amino acid 94 on the serotype 3 VP7 was also significantly associated with resistance to illness or shedding (P = 0.02), with a trend for protection against illness and shedding. A trend was also noted between the presence of EBA antibody against a cross-reactive VP4 epitope common to many human rotavirus strains, including the challenge virus, or a rhesus monkey rotavirus strain-specific VP4 antigenic site, and resistance to illness or shedding. These data confirm that the presence of serum antibody correlates with resistance to rotavirus illness or shedding but, in addition, demonstrate the association of antibody to a specific epitope with resistance to illness or shedding. These data also suggest that antigenic site A on the rotavirus VP7, composed of amino acids 87 to 96, may be involved in the formation of a major protective epitope. Further study of the role of this epitope in the development of homotypic and heterotypic immunity to rotaviruses following natural or vaccine-induced infection may be important in the development of strategies for control of rotavirus diarrheal disease.

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