One of the methods used for controlling cattle rabies in Brazil consists of vaccination. Sometimes, however, rabies occurs in cattle supposedly protected. Since rabies vaccine batches are officially controlled by tests performed on laboratory animals, it is questionable whether the minimal mandatory requirements really correspond to immunogenicity in the target species. We have analyzed the association among potencies of rabies vaccines tested by the NIH test, the contents and form (free-soluble or virus-attached) of rabies glycoprotein (G) in the vaccine batches, and the virus-neutralizing antibodies (VNA) titers elicited in cattle. No correlation was found between G contents in the vaccine batches and the NIH values, whatever the presentation of G. There was no correlation either between NIH values and VNA titers elicited in cattle. There was, however, a positive correlation (r = 0.8681; p = 0.0001) between the amounts of virion-attached G present in the vaccine batches and VNA elicited in cattle. This was not observed when the same analysis was performed with total-glycoprotein or free-soluble glycoprotein. The study demonstrated that NIH values can not predict the effect of the immunogen in cattle. On the other hand, the quantification of virus-attached rabies glycoprotein has a strong correlation with VNA elicited in cattle.
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