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Virology. 2000 Oct 10;276(1):202-13.

Evaluation of recombinant vaccinia virus--measles vaccines in infant rhesus macaques with preexisting measles antibody.

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The California Regional Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, California, 95616, USA.


Immunization of newborn infants with standard measles vaccines is not effective because of the presence of maternal antibody. In this study, newborn rhesus macaques were immunized with recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing measles virus hemagglutinin (H) and fusion (F) proteins, using the replication-competent WR strain of vaccinia virus or the replication-defective MVA strain. The infants were boosted at 2 months and then challenged intranasally with measles virus at 5 months of age. Some of the newborn monkeys received measles immune globulin (MIG) prior to the first immunization, and these infants were compared to additional infants that had maternal measles-neutralizing antibody. In the absence of measles antibody, vaccination with either vector induced neutralizing antibody, cytotoxic T cell (CTL) responses to measles virus and protection from systemic measles infection and skin rash. The infants vaccinated with the MVA vector developed lower measles-neutralizing antibody titers than those vaccinated with the WR vector, and they sustained a transient measles viremia upon challenge. Either maternal antibody or passively transferred MIG blocked the humoral response to vaccination with both WR and MVA, and the frequency of positive CTL responses was reduced. Despite this inhibition of vaccine-induced immunity, there was a reduction in peak viral loads and skin rash after measles virus challenge in many of the infants with preexisting measles antibody. Therefore, vaccination using recombinant vectors such as poxviruses may be able to prevent the severe disease that often accompanies measles in infants.

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