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Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Evaluation of the Immunogenicity of an Experimental Subunit Vaccine That Allows Differentiation between Infected and Vaccinated Animals against Bluetongue Virus Serotype 8 in Cattle

Anderson J, Hägglund S, Bréard E, Comtet L, Bengtsson KL, Pringle J, Zientara S, Valarcher JF


Bluetongue virus (BTV), the causative agent of bluetongue in ruminants, is an emerging virus in northern Europe. The 2006 out-break of BTV serotype 8 (BTV-8) in Europe was marked by an unusual teratogenic effect and a high frequency of clinical signs in cattle. Conventional control strategies targeting small ruminants were therefore extended to include cattle. Since cattle were not routinely vaccinated before 2006, the immune responses to BTV have not been studied extensively in this species. With the aims of developing a subunit vaccine against BTV-8 for differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals based on viral protein 7 (VP7) antibody detection and of improving the current understanding of the immunogenicity of BTV proteins in cattle, the immune responses induced by recombinant VP2 (BTV-8) and nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) and NS2 (BTV-2) were studied. Cows were immunized twice (with a 3-week interval) with the experimental vaccine, a commercial inactivated vaccine, or a placebo. The two vaccines induced similar neutralizing antibody responses to BTV-8. Furthermore, the antibody responses detected against VP2, NS1, and NS2 were strongest in the animals immunized with the experimental vaccine, and for the first time, a serotype cross-reactive antibody response to NS2 was shown in cattle vaccinated with the commercial vaccine. The two vaccines evoked measurable T cell responses against NS1, thereby supporting a bovine cross-reactive T cell response. Finally, VP7 sero-conversion was observed after vaccination with the commercial vaccine, as in natural infections, but not after vaccination with the experimental vaccine, indicating that the experimental vaccine may allow the differentiation of vaccinated animals from infected animals regardless of BTV serotype. The experimental vaccine will be further evaluated during a virulent challenge in a high-containment facility.

Published in

Clinical and Vaccine Immunology
2013, Volume: 20, number: 8, pages: 1115-1122