Transcriptomic analysis reveals a previously unknown role for CD8+ T-cells in rVSV-EBOV mediated protection.
ABSTRACT: Ebola virus (EBOV) poses a significant threat to human health as highlighted by the recent epidemic in West Africa. Data from animal studies and a ring vaccination clinical trial conducted in Guinea during the recent epidemic demonstrated that a recombinant VSV where G protein is replaced with EBOV GP (rVSV-EBOV) is safe and highly efficacious. We previously established that antibodies are essential for rVSV-EBOV mediated protection against EBOV; however, the mechanisms by which this vaccine induces a humoral response and the role of T-cells in rVSV-EBOV mediated protection remain poorly understood. Since this is the only vaccine platform that has completed Phase III clinical studies, it is imperative to gain a better understanding of its mechanisms of protection. Therefore, we performed a longitudinal gene expression analysis of samples collected from controls and T-cell-depleted macaques after rVSV-EBOV vaccination and EBOV challenge. We show that rVSV-EBOV vaccination induces gene expression changes consistent with anti-viral immunity and B-cell proliferation. We also report a previously unappreciated role for CD8+ T-cells in mediating rVSV-EBOV protection. Finally, limited viral transcription in surviving animals may boost protective responses after EBOV challenge by maintaining transcriptional changes. This study presents a novel approach in determining mechanisms of vaccine efficacy.
Project description:Zaire Ebola virus (EBOV) is a member of the Filoviridae family of negative sense, single-stranded RNA viruses. EBOV infection causes Ebola virus disease (EVD), characterized by coagulopathy, lymphopenia, and multi-organ failure, which can culminate in death. In 2019, the FDA approved the first vaccine against EBOV, a recombinant live-attenuated viral vector wherein the G protein of vesicular stomatitis virus is replaced with the glycoprotein (GP) of EBOV (rVSV-EBOV-GP, Ervebo® by Merck). This vaccine demonstrates high efficacy in nonhuman primates by providing prophylactic, rapid, and post-exposure protection. In humans, rVSV-EBOV-GP demonstrated 100% protection in several phase III clinical trials in over 10,000 individuals during the 2013-2016 West Africa epidemic. As of 2020, over 218,000 doses of rVSV-EBOV-GP have been administered to individuals with high risk of EBOV exposure. Despite licensure and robust preclinical studies, the mechanisms of rVSV-EBOV-GP-mediated protection are not fully understood. Such knowledge is crucial for understanding vaccine-mediated correlates of protection from EVD and to aid the further design and development of therapeutics against filoviruses. Here, we summarize the current literature regarding the host response to vaccination and EBOV exposure, and evidence regarding innate and adaptive immune mechanisms involved in rVSV-EBOV-GP-mediated protection, with a focus on the host transcriptional response. Current data strongly suggest a protective synergy between rapid innate and humoral immunity.
Project description:Ebola viruses cause hemorrhagic disease in humans and nonhuman primates with high fatality rates. These viruses pose a significant health concern worldwide due to the lack of approved therapeutics and vaccines as well as their potential misuse as bioterrorism agents. Although not licensed for human use, recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) expressing the filovirus glycoprotein (GP) has been shown to protect macaques from Ebola virus and Marburg virus infections, both prophylactically and postexposure in a homologous challenge setting. However, the immune mechanisms of protection conferred by this vaccine platform remain poorly understood. In this study, we set out to investigate the role of humoral versus cellular immunity in rVSV vaccine-mediated protection against lethal Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) challenge. Groups of cynomolgus macaques were depleted of CD4+ T, CD8+ T, or CD20+ B cells before and during vaccination with rVSV/ZEBOV-GP. Unfortunately, CD20-depleted animals generated a robust IgG response. Therefore, an additional group of vaccinated animals were depleted of CD4+ T cells during challenge. All animals were subsequently challenged with a lethal dose of ZEBOV. Animals depleted of CD8+ T cells survived, suggesting a minimal role for CD8+ T cells in vaccine-mediated protection. Depletion of CD4+ T cells during vaccination caused a complete loss of glycoprotein-specific antibodies and abrogated vaccine protection. In contrast, depletion of CD4+ T cells during challenge resulted in survival of the animals, indicating a minimal role for CD4+ T-cell immunity in rVSV-mediated protection. Our results suggest that antibodies play a critical role in rVSV-mediated protection against ZEBOV.
Project description:Ebola virus disease (EVD) has become a great threat to humans across the world in recent years. The 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa caused numerous deaths and attracted worldwide attentions. Since no specific drugs and treatments against EVD was available, vaccination was considered as the most promising and effective method of controlling this epidemic. So far, 7 vaccine candidates had been developed and evaluated through clinical trials. Among them, the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-based vaccine (rVSV-EBOV) is the most promising candidate, which demonstrated a significant protection against EVD in phase III clinical trial. However, several concerns were still associated with the Ebola vaccine candidates, including the safety profile in some particular populations, the immunization schedule for emergency vaccination, and the persistence of the protection. We retrospectively reviewed the current development of Ebola vaccines and discussed issues and challenges remaining to be investigated in the future.
Project description:Recent West African Ebola virus (EBOV) epidemics have led to testing different anti-EBOV vaccines, including a replication-defective adenovirus (RD-Ad) vector (ChAd3-EBOV) and an infectious, replication-competent recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus expressing the EBOV glycoprotein (rVSV-EBOV; also known as rVSV-ZEBOV). While RD-Ads elicit protection, when scaled up to human trials, the level of protection may be much lower than that of vaccines containing viruses that can replicate. Although a replication-competent Ad (RC-Ad) vaccine might generate a level of protection approximating that of rVSV, this infectious vector would also risk causing adenovirus disease. We recently described a "single-cycle" adenovirus (SC-Ad) vector that amplifies antigen genes like RC-Ad, but that avoids the risk of adenovirus infection. Here we have tested an SC-Ad6 vector expressing the glycoprotein (GP) from a 2014 EBOV strain in mice, hamsters, and rhesus macaques. We show that SC-Ad6-EBOV GP induces a high level of serum antibodies in all species and mediates significant protection against pseudo-challenge with rVSV-EBOV expressing luciferase in mice and hamsters. These data suggest that SC-Ad6-EBOV GP may be useful during future EBOV outbreaks.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Ebola virus (EBOV), variant Makona, was the causative agent of the 2013-2016 West African epidemic responsible for almost 30,000 human infections and over 11,000 fatalities. During the epidemic, the development of several experimental vaccines was accelerated through human clinical trials. One of them, the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-based vaccine VSV-EBOV, showed promising efficacy in a phase 3 clinical trial in Guinea and is currently used in the ongoing EBOV outbreak in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This vaccine expresses the EBOV-Kikwit glycoprotein from the 1995 outbreak as the immunogen. METHODS:Here we generated a VSV-based vaccine expressing the contemporary EBOV-Makona glycoprotein. We characterized the vaccine in tissue culture and analyzed vaccine efficacy in the cynomolgus macaque model. Subsequently, we determined the dose-dependent protective efficacy in nonhuman primates against lethal EBOV challenge. FINDINGS:We observed complete protection from disease with VSV-EBOV doses ranging from 1?×?107 to 1?×?101 plaque-forming units. Some protected animals receiving lower vaccine doses developed temporary low-level EBOV viremia. Control animals developed classical EBOV disease and reached euthanasia criteria within a week after challenge. This study demonstrates that very low doses of VSV-EBOV uniformly protect macaques against lethal EBOV challenge. INTERPRETATION:Our study provides missing pre-clinical data supporting the use of reduced VSV-EBOV vaccine doses without decreasing protective efficacy and at the same time increase vaccine safety and availability - two critical concerns in public health response. FUNDING:Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
Project description:Ebola virus epidemics can be effectively limited by the VSV-EBOV vaccine (Ervebo) due to its rapid protection abilities; however, side effects prevent the broad use of VSV-EBOV as vaccine. Mechanisms explaining the efficient immune activation after single injection with the VSV-EBOV vaccine remain mainly unknown. Here, using the clinically available VSV-EBOV vaccine (Ervebo), we show that the cell-intrinsic expression of the interferon-inhibitor Usp18 in CD169+ macrophages is one important factor modulating the anti-Ebola virus immune response. The absence of Usp18 in CD169+ macrophages led to the reduced local replication of VSV-EBOV followed by a diminished innate as well as adaptive immune response. In line, CD169-Cre+/ki x Usp18fl/fl mice showed reduced innate and adaptive immune responses against the VSV wildtype strain and died quickly after infection, suggesting that a lack of Usp18 makes mice more susceptible to the side effects of the VSV vector. In conclusion, our study shows that Usp18 expression in CD169+ macrophages is one important surrogate marker for effective vaccination against VSV-EBOV, and probably other VSV-based vaccines also.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The recent West African Ebola epidemic led to accelerated efforts to test Ebola vaccine candidates. As part of the World Health Organisation-led VSV Ebola Consortium (VEBCON), we performed a phase I clinical trial investigating rVSV-ZEBOV (a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-vectored Ebola vaccine), which has recently demonstrated protection from Ebola virus disease (EVD) in phase III clinical trials and is currently in advanced stages of licensing. So far, correlates of immune protection are incompletely understood and the role of cell-mediated immune responses has not been comprehensively investigated to date. METHODS:We recruited 30 healthy subjects aged 18-55 into an open-label, dose-escalation phase I trial testing three doses of rVSV-ZEBOV (3×105 plaque-forming units (PFU), 3×106 PFU, 2×107 PFU) (ClinicalTrials.gov; NCT02283099). Main study objectives were safety and immunogenicity, while exploratory objectives included lymphocyte dynamics, cell-mediated immunity and cytokine networks, which were assessed using flow cytometry, ELISpot and LUMINEX assay. FINDINGS:Immunization with rVSV-ZEBOV was well tolerated without serious vaccine-related adverse events. Ebola virus-specific neutralizing antibodies were induced in nearly all individuals. Additionally, vaccinees, particularly within the highest dose cohort, generated Ebola glycoprotein (GP)-specific T cells and initiated a cascade of signaling molecules following stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with Ebola GP peptides. INTERPRETATION:In addition to a benign safety and robust humoral immunogenicity profile, subjects immunized with 2×107 PFU elicited higher cellular immune responses and stronger interlocked cytokine networks compared to lower dose groups. To our knowledge these data represent the first detailed cell-mediated immuneprofile of a clinical trial testing rVSV-ZEBOV, which is of particular interest in light of its potential upcoming licensure as the first Ebola vaccine. VEBCON trial Hamburg, Germany (NCT02283099).
Project description:The last seven years have seen the greatest surge of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases in equatorial Africa, including the 2013-2016 epidemic in West Africa and the recent epidemics in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The vaccine clinical trials that took place in West Africa and the DRC, as well as follow-up studies in collaboration with EVD survivor communities, have for the first time allowed researchers to compare immune memory induced by natural infection and vaccination. These comparisons may be relevant to evaluate the putative effectiveness of vaccines and candidate medical countermeasures such as convalescent plasma transfer. In this study, we compared the long-term functionality of anti-EBOV glycoprotein (GP) antibodies from EVD survivors with that from volunteers who received the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vectored vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV) during the Phase I clinical trial in Hamburg. Our study highlights important differences between EBOV vaccination and natural infection and provides a framework for comparison with other vaccine candidates.
Project description:Previous studies demonstrated that a single intramuscular (i.m.) dose of an attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vector (VesiculoVax vector platform; rVSV-N4CT1) expressing the glycoprotein (GP) from the Mayinga strain of Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) protected nonhuman primates (NHPs) from lethal challenge with EBOV strains Kikwit and Makona. Here, we studied the immunogenicities of an expanded range of attenuated rVSV vectors expressing filovirus GP in mice. Based on data from those studies, an optimal attenuated trivalent rVSV vector formulation was identified that included rVSV vectors expressing EBOV, Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), and the Angola strain of Marburg marburgvirus (MARV) GPs. NHPs were vaccinated with a single dose of the trivalent formulation, followed by lethal challenge 28 days later with each of the three corresponding filoviruses. At day 14 postvaccination, a serum IgG response specific for all three GPs was detected in all the vaccinated macaques. A modest and balanced cell-mediated immune response specific for each GP was also detected in a majority of the vaccinated macaques. No matter the level of total GP-specific immune response detected postvaccination, all the vaccinated macaques were protected from disease and death following lethal challenge with each of the three filoviruses. These findings indicate that vaccination with a single dose of attenuated rVSV-N4CT1 vectors each expressing a single filovirus GP may provide protection against the filoviruses most commonly responsible for outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever in sub-Saharan Africa.IMPORTANCE The West African Ebola virus Zaire outbreak in 2013 showed that the disease was not only a regional concern, but a worldwide problem, and highlighted the need for a safe and efficacious vaccine to be administered to the populace. However, other endemic pathogens, like Ebola virus Sudan and Marburg, also pose an important health risk to the public and therefore require development of a vaccine prior to the occurrence of an outbreak. The significance of our research was the development of a blended trivalent filovirus vaccine that elicited a balanced immune response when administered as a single dose and provided complete protection against a lethal challenge with all three filovirus pathogens.
Project description:Ebola virus (EBOV), isolate Makona, was the causative agent of the West African epidemic devastating predominantly Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2013-2016. While several experimental vaccine and treatment approaches have been accelerated through human clinical trials, there is still no approved countermeasure available against this disease. Here, we report the construction and preclinical efficacy testing of a novel recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA)-based vaccine expressing the EBOV-Makona glycoprotein GP and matrix protein VP40 (MVA-EBOV). GP and VP40 form EBOV-like particles and elicit protective immune responses. In this study, we report 100% protection against lethal EBOV infection in guinea pigs after prime/boost vaccination with MVA-EBOV. Furthermore, this MVA-EBOV protected macaques from lethal disease after a single dose or prime/boost vaccination. The vaccine elicited a variety of antibody responses to both antigens, including neutralizing antibodies and antibodies with antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxic activity specific for GP. This is the first report that a replication-deficient MVA vector can confer full protection against lethal EBOV challenge after a single dose vaccination in macaques.