Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 37, Number 1, January-February 2006
Page(s) 155 - 168
Published online 13 December 2005
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2006) 155-168
Vet. Res. 37 (2006) 155-168
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2005049

Immunological properties of recombinant classical swine fever virus NS3 protein in vitro and in vivo

Henriette Raua, Hilde Revetsb, Carole Balmellia, Kenneth C. McCullougha and Artur Summerfielda

a  Institute of Virology and Immunoprophylaxis, 3147 Mittelhäusern, Switzerland
b  Flanders Interuniversity, Institute for Biotechnology, Department of Molecular and Cellular Interactions, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

(Received 7 July 2005; accepted 5 September 2005; published online 13 December 2005)

Abstract - Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious and often fatal disease of pigs characterised by fever, severe leukopenia and haemorrhages. With vaccines having an importance in disease control, studies are seeking improved protein-based subunit vaccine against the virus (CSFV). In this respect, recombinant viral NS3 protein was analysed for its immunopotentiating capacity, particularly in terms of cytotoxic immune responses. NS3 was effective at inducing in vitro responses, quantified by lymphoproliferation, IFN-$\gamma$ ELISPOT, flow cytometric detection of activated T cell subsets, and cytotoxic T cell assays. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from CSFV-immune pigs could be stimulated, but not cells from naïve animals. In addition to the IFN-$\gamma$ responses, induction of both CD4+ T helper cell and CD8+ cytotoxic T cells (CTL) were discernible - activation of the latter was confirmed in a virus-specific cytolytic assay. Attempts were made to translate this to the in vivo situation, by vaccinating pigs with an E2/NS3-based vaccine compared with an E2 subunit vaccine. Both vaccines were similar in their abilities to stimulate specific immune responses and protect pigs against lethal CSFV infection. Although the E2/NS3 vaccine appeared to have an advantage in terms of antibody induction, this was not statistically significant when group studies were performed. It was also difficult to visualise the NS3 capacity to promote T-cell responses in vivo. These results show that NS3 has potential for promoting cytotoxic defences, but the formulation of the vaccine requires optimisation for ensuring that NS3 is correctly delivered to antigen presenting cells for efficient activation of CTL.

Key words: classical swine fever / subunit vaccine / E2 / NS3 / CTL

Corresponding author: Artur Summerfield

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2005