New or improved vaccines against viruses such as influenza, parainfluenza types 1-3, measles, dengue, and respiratory syncytial virus would prevent an enormous burden of morbidity and mortality. Vaccines or vaccine candidates exist against these viral diseases, but all could potentially be improved if the immunogenicity of the vaccine could be enhanced. We found that the immunogenicity in primates of a live-attenuated vaccine candidate for parainfluenza virus type 3, an enveloped RNA virus that is an important etiologic agent of pediatric respiratory tract disease, could be enhanced by expression of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) from an extra gene inserted into the genome of a cDNA-derived virus. Expression of GM-CSF by the live attenuated recombinant virus did not per se affect the level of pulmonary viral replication in rhesus monkeys after topical administration, which was 40-fold lower than that of WT parainfluenza virus type 3. Despite that, the expressed extra gene augmented the virus-specific serum antibody response to a level that was (i) 3- to 6-fold higher than that induced by the same virus with an unrelated RNA insert of equal length and (ii) equal to the response induced by nonattenuated WT virus. In addition, topical immunization with the attenuated virus expressing GM-CSF induced a greater number of virus-specific IFN-gamma-secreting T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood of monkeys than did immunization with the control virus bearing an unrelated RNA insert. These findings show that the immunogenicity of a live-attenuated vaccine virus in primates can be enhanced without increasing the level of virus replication. Thus, it might be possible to develop live-attenuated vaccines that are as immunogenic as parental WT virus or, possibly, even more so.
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