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J Virol. 2012 Nov;86(21):11533-40. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00615-12. Epub 2012 Aug 15.

Protective vaccine-induced CD4(+) T cell-independent B cell responses against rabies infection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


A major goal in rabies virus (RV) research is to develop a single-dose postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) that would simplify vaccination protocols, reduce costs associated with rabies prevention in humans, and save lives. Live replication-deficient RV-based vaccines are emerging as promising single-dose vaccines to replace currently licensed inactivated RV-based vaccines. Nonetheless, little is known about how effective B cells develop in response to live RV-based vaccination. Understanding this fundamental property of rabies immunology may help in developing a single-dose RV vaccine. Typically, vaccines induce B cells secreting high-affinity, class-switched antibodies during germinal center (GC) reactions; however, there is a lag time between vaccination and the generation of GC B cells. In this report, we show that RV-specific antibodies are detected in mice immunized with live but not inactivated RV-based vaccines before B cells displaying a GC B cell phenotype (B220(+)GL7(hi)CD95(hi)) are formed, indicating a potential role for T cell-independent and early extrafollicular T cell-dependent antibody responses in the protection against RV infection. Using two mouse models of CD4(+) T cell deficiency, we show that B cells secreting virus-neutralizing antibodies (VNAs) are induced via T cell-independent mechanisms within 4 days postimmunization with a replication-deficient RV-based vaccine. Importantly, mice that are completely devoid of T cells (B6.129P2-Tcrβ(tm1Mom) Tcrδ(tm1Mom)/J) show protection against pathogenic challenge shortly after immunization with a live replication-deficient RV-based vaccine. We show that vaccines that can exploit early pathways of B cell activation and development may hold the key for the development of a single-dose RV vaccine wherein the rapid induction of VNA is critical.

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