Repeated in vivo stimulation of T and B cell responses in old mice generates protective immunity against lethal west nile virus encephalitis

Jennifer L. Uhrlaub, James D. Brien, Douglas G. Widman, Peter W. Mason, Janko Nikolich-Žugich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Older adults exhibit higher morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases compared with those of the general population. The introduction and rapid spread of West Nile virus (WNV) throughout the continental United States since 1999 has highlighted the challenge of protecting older adults against emerging pathogens: to this day there is no therapy or vaccine approved for human use againstWest Nile encephalitis. In this study, we describe the characterization of Tand B cell responses in old mice after vaccination with RepliVAX WN, a novel West Nile encephalitis vaccine based on single-cycle flavivirus particles. In adult mice, RepliVAX WN induced robust and long-lasting CD4+ and CD8+ T cell and Ab (B cell) responses against natural WNV epitopes, similar to those elicited by primary WNV infection. Primary and memory T and B cell responses in old mice against RepliVAX WN vaccination were significantly lower than those seen in younger mice, similar to the response of old mice to infection with WNV. Surprisingly, both the quality and the quantity of the recall Ab and T cell responses in vaccinated old mice were improved to equal or exceed those in adult animals. Moreover, these responses together (but not individually) were sufficient to protect both old and adult mice from severe WNV disease upon challenge. Therefore, at least two cycles of in vivo restimulation are needed for selection and expansion of protective lymphocytes in older populations, and live, single-cycle virus vaccines that stimulate both cellular and humoral immunity can protect older individuals against severe viral disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3882-3891
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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