Homologous prime-boost with Zika virus envelope protein and poly (I:C) induces robust specific humoral and cellular immune responses

The recent outbreaks of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection and the potential association with Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults and with congenital abnormalities have highlighted the urgency for an effective vaccine. The ZIKV Envelope glycoprotein (EZIKV) is the most abundant protein on the virus surface, and has been evaluated together with the pre-membrane protein (prM) of the viral coat as a vaccine candidate in clinical trials. In this study, we performed a head-to-head comparison of the immune response induced by different EZIKV-based vaccine candidates in mice. We compared different platforms (DNA, recombinant protein), adjuvants (poly (I:C), CpG ODN 1826) and immunization strategies (homologous, heterologous). The hierarchy of adjuvant potency showed that poly (I:C) was a superior adjuvant than CpG ODN. While poly (I:C) assisted immunization reached a plateau in antibody titers after two doses, the CpG ODN group required an extra immunization dose. Besides, the administration of poly (I:C) induced higher EZIKV-specific cellular immune responses than CpG ODN. We also show that immunization with homologous prime-boost EZIKV protein + poly (I:C) regimen induced a more robust humoral response than homologous DNA (pVAX-EZIKV) or heterologous regimens (DNA/protein or protein/DNA). A detailed analysis of cellular immune responses revealed that homologous (EZIKV + poly (I:C)) and heterologous (pVAX-EZIKV/EZIKV + poly (I:C)) prime-boost regimens induced the highest magnitude of IFN-? secreting cells and cytokine-producing CD4+ T cells. Overall, our data demonstrate that homologous EZIKV + poly (I:C) prime-boost immunization is sufficient to induce more robust specific-EZIKV humoral and cellular immune responses than the other strategies that contemplate homologous DNA (pVAX-EZIKV) or heterologous (pVAX-EZIKV/EZIKV + poly (I:C), and vice-versa) immunizations
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Subunit vaccine;  DNA vaccine;  Prime-boost;  Adjuvant;  Envelope;  Zika virus

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Amaral MP, Apostolico JS, Tomita N, Coirada FC, Lunardelli VAS, Fernandes ER, et al. Homologous prime-boost with Zika virus envelope protein and poly (I:C) induces robust specific humoral and cellular immune responses. Vaccine. 2020 Apr;38(20):3653-3664. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.03.037.
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