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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 23;100(26):15889-94. Epub 2003 Dec 12.

Ebola virus-like particles protect from lethal Ebola virus infection.

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US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


The filovirus Ebola causes hemorrhagic fever with 70-80% human mortality. High case-fatality rates, as well as known aerosol infectivity, make Ebola virus a potential global health threat and possible biological warfare agent. Development of an effective vaccine for use in natural outbreaks, response to biological attack, and protection of laboratory workers is a higher national priority than ever before. Coexpression of the Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP) and matrix protein (VP40) in mammalian cells results in spontaneous production and release of virus-like particles (VLPs) that resemble the distinctively filamentous infectious virions. VLPs have been tested and found efficacious as vaccines for several viruses, including papillomavirus, HIV, parvovirus, and rotavirus. Herein, we report that Ebola VLPs (eVLPs) were immunogenic in vitro as eVLPs matured and activated mouse bone marrow-derived dendritic cells, assessed by increases in cell-surface markers CD40, CD80, CD86, and MHC class I and II and secretion of IL-6, IL-10, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1alpha, and tumor necrosis factor alpha by the dendritic cells. Further, vaccinating mice with eVLPs activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, as well as CD19+ B cells. After vaccination with eVLPs, mice developed high titers of Ebola virus-specific antibodies, including neutralizing antibodies. Importantly, mice vaccinated with eVLPs were 100% protected from an otherwise lethal Ebola virus inoculation. Together, our data suggest that eVLPs represent a promising vaccine candidate for protection against Ebola virus infections and a much needed tool to examine the genesis and nature of immune responses to Ebola virus.

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