Protective Efficacy of Newcastle Disease Virus Expressing Soluble Trimeric Hemagglutinin against Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Influenza in Chickens and Mice

A.H.M. Cornelissen, O.S. de Leeuw, M.G.J. Tacken, H.C. Klos, R.P. de Vries, E.A. de Boer-Luijtze, D.J. van Zoelen-Bos, A. Rigter, P.J.M. Rottier, R.J.M. Moormann, C.A.M. de Haan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) causes a highly contagious often fatal disease in poultry, resulting in significant economic losses in the poultry industry. HPAIV H5N1 also poses a major public health threat as it can be transmitted directly from infected poultry to humans. One effective way to combat avian influenza with pandemic potential is through the vaccination of poultry. Several live vaccines based on attenuated Newcastle disease virus (NDV) that express influenza hemagglutinin (HA) have been developed to protect chickens or mammalian species against HPAIV. However, the zoonotic potential of NDV raises safety concerns regarding the use of live NDV recombinants, as the incorporation of a heterologous attachment protein may result in the generation of NDV with altered tropism and/or pathogenicity. Methodology/Principal Findings: In the present study we generated recombinant NDVs expressing either full length, membrane-anchored HA of the H5 subtype (NDV-H5) or a soluble trimeric form thereof (NDV-sH5 3). A single intramuscular immunization with NDV-sH5 3 or NDV-H5 fully protected chickens against disease after a lethal challenge with H5N1 and reduced levels of virus shedding in tracheal and cloacal swabs. NDV-sH5 3 was less protective than NDV-H5 (50% vs 80% protection) when administered via the respiratory tract. The NDV-sH5 3 was ineffective in mice, regardless of whether administered oculonasally or intramuscularly. In this species, NDV-H5 induced protective immunity against HPAIV H5N1, but only after oculonasal administration, despite the poor H5-specific serum antibody response it elicited. Conclusions/Significance: Although NDV expressing membrane anchored H5 in general provided better protection than its counterpart expressing soluble H5, chickens could be fully protected against a lethal challenge with H5N1 by using the latter NDV vector. This study thus provides proof of concept for the use of recombinant vector vaccines expressing a soluble form of a heterologous viral membrane protein. Such vectors may be advantageous as they preclude the incorporation of heterologous membrane proteins into the viral vector particles.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere44447
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • avian influenza
  • fusion protein
  • neutralizing antibodies
  • respiratory-tract
  • lethal challenge
  • vaccine vectors
  • fowlpox virus
  • recombinant
  • immunization
  • virulence


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