Intramuscular vaccination of mice with the human herpes simplex virus type-1(HSV-1) VC2 vaccine, but not its parental strain HSV-1 (F) confers full protection against lethal ocular HSV-1 (McKrae) pathogenesis
Copyright: © 2020 Naidu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) can cause severe ocular infection and blindness. We have previously shown that the HSV-1 VC2 vaccine strain is protective in mice and guinea pigs against genital herpes infection following vaginal challenge with HSV-1 or HSV-2. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of VC2 intramuscular vaccination in mice against herpetic keratitis following ocular challenge with lethal human clinical strain HSV-1(McKrae). VC2 vaccination in mice produced superior protection and morbidity control in comparison to its parental strain HSV-1(F). Specifically, after HSV-1(McKrae) ocular challenge, all VC2 vaccinated- mice survived, while 30% of the HSV-1(F)- vaccinated and 100% of the mock-vaccinated mice died post challenge. VC2-vaccinated mice did not exhibit any symptoms of ocular infection and completely recovered from initial conjunctivitis. In contrast, HSV-1(F)-vaccinated mice developed time-dependent progressive keratitis characterized by corneal opacification, while mock-vaccinated animals exhibited more severe stromal keratitis characterized by immune cell infiltration and neovascularization in corneal stroma with corneal opacification. Cornea in VC2-immunized mice exhibited significantly increased infiltration of CD3+ T lymphocytes and decreased infiltration of Iba1+ macrophages in comparison to mock- or HSV-1(F)-vaccinated groups. VC2 immunization produced higher virus neutralization titers than HSV-1(F) post challenge. Furthermore, VC-vaccination significantly increased the CD4 T central memory (TCM) subsets and CD8 T effector memory (TEM) subsets in the draining lymph nodes following ocular HSV-1 (McKrae) challenge, then mock- or HSV-1(F)-vaccination. These results indicate that VC2 vaccination produces a protective immune response at the site of challenge to protect against HSV-1-induced ocular pathogenesis.
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Naidu, S., Nabi, R., Cheemarla, N., Stanfield, B., Rider, P., Jambunathan, N., Chouljenko, V., Carter, R., Piero, F., Langohr, I., & Kousoulas, K. (2020). Intramuscular vaccination of mice with the human herpes simplex virus type-1(HSV-1) VC2 vaccine, but not its parental strain HSV-1 (F) confers full protection against lethal ocular HSV-1 (McKrae) pathogenesis. PLoS ONE, 15 (2) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228252