Challenges for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) vaccinology

T.G. Kimman, A.H.M. Cornelissen, R.J.M. Moormann, J.M.J. Rebel, N. Stockhofe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

224 Citations (Scopus)


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) continues to be a threat for the pig industry. Vaccines have been developed, but these failed to provide sustainable disease control, in particular against genetically unrelated strains. Here we give an overview of current knowledge and gaps in our knowledge that may be relevant for the development of a future generation of more effective vaccines. PRRSV replicates in cells of the monocyte/macrophage lineage, induces apoptosis and necrosis, interferes with the induction of a proinflammatory response, only slowly induces a specific antiviral response, and may cause persistent infections. The virus appears to use several evasion strategies to circumvent both innate and acquired immunity, including interference with antigen presentation, antibody-mediated enhancement, reduced cell surface expression of viral proteins, and shielding of neutralizing epitopes. In particular the downregulation of type I interferon-a production appears to interfere with the induction of acquired immunity. Current vaccines are ineffective because they suffer both from the immune evasion strategies of the virus and the antigenic heterogeneity of field strains. Future vaccines therefore must “uncouple” the immune evasion and apoptogenic/necrotic properties of the virus from its immunogenic properties, and they should induce a broad immune response covering the plasticity of its major antigenic sites. Alternatively, the composition of the vaccine should be changed regularly to reflect presently and locally circulating strains. Preferably new vaccines should also allow discriminating infected from vaccinated pigs to support a virus elimination strategy. Challenges in vaccine development are the incompletely known mechanisms of immune evasion and immunity, lack of knowledge of viral sequences that are responsible for the pathogenic and immunosuppressive properties of the virus, lack of knowledge of the forces that drive antigenic heterogeneity and its consequences for immunogenicity, and a viral genome that is relatively intolerant for subtle changes at functional sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3704-3718
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • equine arteritis virus
  • dehydrogenase-elevating virus
  • recombinant pseudorabies virus
  • nuclear-localization signal
  • major envelope proteins
  • reading frame 5
  • alveolar macrophages
  • dendritic cells
  • structural proteins
  • immune-responses

Cite this