Vesicular stomatitis Virus-Simian retrovirus type 2 vaccine protects macaques from detectable infection and B-cell destruction

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Natural infection with simian retrovirus (SRV) has long been recognized in rhesus macaques (RMs) and may result in an AIDS-like disease. Importantly, SRV infections persist as a problem in recently imported macaques. Therefore, there is a clear need to control SRV spread in macaque colonies. We developed a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-SRV vaccine consisting of replication-competent hybrid VSVs that express SRV gag and env in separate vectors. The goal of this study was to assess the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of the VSV-SRV serotype 2 vaccine prime-boost approach in RMs. The VSV-SRV vector (expressing either SRV gag or env) vaccines were intranasally administered in 4 RMs, followed by a boost 1 month after the first vaccination. Four RMs served as controls and received the VSV vector alone. Two months after the boost, all animals were intravenously challenged with SRV-2 and monitored for 90 days. After the SRV-2 challenge, all four controls became infected, and viral loads (VLs) ranged from 106 to 108 SRV RNA copies/ml of plasma. Two animals in the control group developed simian AIDS within 7 to 8 weeks postinfection and were euthanized. Anemia and weight loss were observed in the remaining controls. During acute infection, severe B-cell depletion and no significant changes in T-cell population were observed in the control group. Control RMs with greater preservation of B cells and lower VLs survived longer. SRV-2 was undetectable in vaccinated animals, which remained healthy, with no clinical or biological signs of infection and preservation of B cells. Our study showed that the VSV-SRV vaccine is a strong approach for preventing clinically relevant type D retrovirus infection and disease in RMs, with protection of 4/4 RMs from SRV infection and prevention of B-cell destruction. B-cell protection was the strongest correlate of the long-term survival of all vaccinated and control RMs. © 2011, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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Journal of Virology

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