Lung CD8+ T cell impairment occurs during human metapneumovirus infection despite virus-like particle induction of functional CD8+ T cells

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DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00670-15; PMCID: PMC4524081


© 2015, American Society for Microbiology. Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a major cause of respiratory disease in infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals worldwide. There is currently no licensed HMPV vaccine. Virus-like particles (VLPs) are an attractive vaccine candidate because they are noninfectious and elicit a neutralizing antibody response. However, studies show that serum neutralizing antibodies are insufficient for complete protection against reinfection and that adaptive T cell immunity is important for viral clearance. HMPV and other respiratory viruses induce lung CD8+ T cell (TCD8) impairment, mediated by programmed death 1 (PD-1). In this study, we generated HMPV VLPs by expressing the fusion and matrix proteins in mammalian cells and tested whether VLP immunization induces functional HMPV-specific TCD8 responses in mice. C57BL/6 mice vaccinated twice with VLPs and subsequently challenged with HMPV were protected from lung viral replication for at least 20 weeks postimmunization. A single VLP dose elicited F- and M-specific lung TCD8s with higher function and lower expression of PD-1 and other inhibitory receptors than TCD8s from HMPV-infected mice. However, after HMPV challenge, lung TCD8s from VLP-vaccinated mice exhibited inhibitory receptor expression and functional impairment similar to those of mice experiencing secondary infection. HMPV challenge of VLP-immunized μMT mice also elicited a large percentage of impaired lung TCD8s, similar to mice experiencing secondary infection. Together, these results indicate that VLPs are a promising vaccine candidate but do not prevent lung TCD8 impairment upon HMPV challenge.

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Journal of Virology





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