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J Virol. 2007 Apr;81(7):3514-24. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Virus-like particle vaccine induces protective immunity against homologous and heterologous strains of influenza virus.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, 1510 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Recurrent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus pose the threat of pandemic spread of lethal disease and make it a priority to develop safe and effective vaccines. Influenza virus-like particles (VLPs) have been suggested to be a promising vaccine approach. However, VLP-induced immune responses, and their roles in inducing memory immune responses and cross-protective immunity have not been investigated. In this study, we developed VLPs containing influenza virus A/PR8/34 (H1N1) hemagglutinin (HA) and matrix (M1) proteins and investigated their immunogenicity, long-term cross-protective efficacy, and effects on lung proinflammatory cytokines in mice. Intranasal immunization with VLPs containing HA induced high serum and mucosal antibody titers and neutralizing activity against PR8 and A/WSN/33 (H1N1) viruses. Mice immunized with VLPs containing HA showed little or no proinflammatory lung cytokines and were protected from a lethal challenge with mouse-adapted PR8 or WSN viruses even 5 months postimmunization. Influenza VLPs induced mucosal immunoglobulin G and cellular immune responses, which were reactivated rapidly upon virus challenge. Long-lived antibody-secreting cells were detected in the bone marrow of immunized mice. Immune sera administered intranasally were able to confer 100% protection from a lethal challenge with PR8 or WSN, which provides further evidence that anti-HA antibodies are primarily responsible for preventing infection. Taken together, these results indicate that nonreplicating influenza VLPs represent a promising strategy for the development of a safe and effective vaccine to control the spread of lethal influenza viruses.

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