Chimeric yellow fever virus 17D-Japanese encephalitis virus vaccine: Dose-response effectiveness and extended safety testing in rhesus monkeys

T. P. Monath, I. Levenbook, K. Soike, Z. X. Zhang, M. Ratterree, K. Draper, A. D.T. Barrett, R. Nichols, R. Weltzin, J. Arroyo, F. Guirakhoo

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ChimeriVax-JE is a live, attenuated recombinant virus prepared by replacing the genes encoding two structural proteins (prM and E) of yellow fever 17D virus with the corresponding genes of an attenuated strain of Japanese encephalitis virus (JE), SA14-14-2 (T. J. Chambers et al., J. Virol. 73:3095-3101, 1999). Since the prM and E proteins contain antigens conferring protective humoral and cellular immunity, the immune response to vaccination is directed principally at JE. The prM-E genome sequence of the ChimeriVax-JE in diploid fetal rhesus lung cells (FRhL, a substrate acceptable for human vaccines) was identical to that of JE SA14-14-2 vaccine and differed from sequences of virulent wild-type strains (SA14 and Nakayama) at six amino acid residues in the envelope gene (E107, E138, E176, E279, E315, and E439). ChimeriVax-JE was fully attenuated for weaned mice inoculated by the intracerebral (i.c.) route, whereas commercial yellow fever 17D vaccine (YF- Vax) caused lethal encephalitis with a 50% lethal dose of 1.67 log10 PFU. Groups of four rhesus monkeys were inoculated by the subcutaneous route with 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0 log10 PFU of ChimeriVax-JE. All 16 monkeys developed low viremias (mean peak viremia, 1.7 to 2.1 log10 PFU/ml; mean duration, 1.8 to 2.3 days). Neutralizing antibodies appeared between days 6 and 10; by day 30, neutralizing antibody responses were similar across dose groups. Neutralizing antibody titers to the homologous (vaccine) strain were higher than to the heterologous wild-type JE strains. All immunized monkeys and sham-immunized controls were challenged i.c. on day 54 with 5.2 log10 PFU of wild-type JE. None of the immunized monkeys developed viremia or illness and had mild residual brain lesions, whereas controls developed viremia, clinical encephalitis, and severe histopathologic lesions. Immunized monkeys developed significant (≥4-fold) increases in serum and cerebrospinal fluid neutralizing antibodies after i.c. challenge. In a standardized test for neurovirulence, ChimeriVax-JE and YF-Vax were compared in groups of 10 monkeys inoculated i.c. and analyzed histopathologically on day 30. Lesion scores in brains and spinal cord were significantly higher for monkeys inoculated with YF-Vax. ChimeriVax-JE meets preclinical safety and efficacy requirements for a human vaccine; it appears safer than yellow fever 17D vaccine but has a similar profile of immunogenicity and protective efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1742-1751
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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