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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Dec;951:286-97.

Antibody prophylaxis and therapy for flavivirus encephalitis infections.

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Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado 80522, USA.


The outbreak of West Nile (WN) encephalitis in the United States has rekindled interest in developing direct methods for prevention and control of human flaviviral infections. Although equine WN vaccines are currently being developed, a WN vaccine for humans is years away. There is also no specific therapeutic agent for flaviviral infections. The incidence of human WN virus infection is very low, which makes it difficult to target the human populations in need of vaccination and to assess the vaccine's economic feasibility. It has been shown, however, that prophylactic application of antiflaviviral antibody can protect mice from subsequent virus challenge. This model of antibody prophylaxis using murine monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) has been used to determine the timing of antibody application and specificity of applied antibody necessary for successful prophylaxis. The major flaviviral antigen is the envelope (E) glycoprotein that binds cellular receptors, mediates cell membrane fusion, and contains an array of epitopes that elicit virus-neutralizing and nonneutralizing antibodies. The protective efficacy of an E-glycoprotein-specific MAb is directly related to its ability to neutralize virus infectivity. The window for successful application of prophylactic antibody to prevent flaviviral encephalitis closes at about 4 to 6 days postinfection concomitant with viral invasion of the brain. Using murine MAbs to modify human disease results in a human antimouse antibody (HAMA) response that eventually limits the effectiveness of subsequent murine antibody applications. To reduce the HAMA response and make these MAbs more generally useful for humans, murine MAbs can be "humanized" or human MAbs with analogous reactivities can be developed. Antiflaviviral human or humanized MAbs might be practical and cost-effective reagents for preventing or modifying flaviviral diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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