AS03-adjuvanted H7N9 inactivated split virion vaccines induce cross-reactive and protective responses in ferrets

Daniel Stadlbauer, Leon de Waal, Edith Beaulieu, Shirin Strohmeier, Edwin J.B. Veldhuis Kroeze, Philippe Boutet, Albert D.M.E. Osterhaus, Florian Krammer, Bruce L. Innis, Raffael Nachbagauer, Koert J. Stittelaar, Corey P. Mallett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Human infections with avian H7N9 subtype influenza viruses are a major public health concern and vaccines against H7N9 are urgently needed for pandemic preparedness. In early 2013, novel H7N9 influenza viruses emerged in China that caused about 1600 human cases of infection with a high associated case fatality rate. In this study, two H7N9 split virion vaccines with or without AS03 adjuvant were tested in the naive ferret model. Serological analyses demonstrated that homologous hemagglutination inhibition and microneutralization antibody titers were detectable in the ferrets after the first immunization with the AS03-adjuvanted vaccines that were further boosted by the second immunization. In addition, heterologous antibody titers against older H7 subtype viruses of the North American lineage (H7N7, H7N3) and newer H7 subtype viruses of the Eurasian lineage (H7N9) were detected in the animals receiving the AS03-adjuvanted vaccines. Animals receiving two immunizations of the AS03-adjuvanted vaccines were protected from weight loss and fever in the homologous challenge study and had no detectable virus in throat or lung samples. In addition, microscopic examination post-challenge showed animals immunized with the AS03-adjuvanted vaccines had the least signs of lung injury and inflammation, consistent with the greater relative efficacy of the adjuvanted vaccines. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the AS03-adjuvanted H7N9 vaccines elicited high levels of homologous and heterologous antibodies and protected against H7N9 virus damage post-challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Journalnpj Vaccines
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021

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