Nervous Necrosis Virus-like Particle (VLP) Vaccine Stimulates European Sea Bass Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses and Induces Long-Term Protection against Disease

Sofie Barsøe, Kerstin Skovgaard, Dagoberto Sepúlveda, Ansgar Stratmann, Niccolò Vendramin, Niels Lorenzen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

The rapidly increasing Mediterranean aquaculture production of European sea bass is compromised by outbreaks of viral nervous necrosis, which can be recurrent and detrimental. In this study, we evaluated the duration of protection and immune response in sea bass given a single dose of a virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccine. Examinations included experimental challenge with nervous necrosis virus (NNV), serological assays for NNV-specific antibody reactivity, and immune gene expression analysis. VLP-vaccinated fish showed high and superior survival in challenge both 3 and 7.5 months (1800 and 4500 dd) post-vaccination (RPS 87 and 88, OR (surviving) = 16.5 and 31.5, respectively, p < 0.01). Although not providing sterile immunity, VLP vaccination seemed to control the viral infection, as indicated by low prevalence of virus in the VLP-vaccinated survivors. High titers of neutralizing and specific antibodies were produced in VLP-vaccinated fish and persisted for at least ~9 months post-vaccination as well as after challenge. However, failure of immune sera to protect recipient fish in a passive immunization trial suggested that other immune mechanisms were important for protection. Accordingly, gene expression analysis revealed that VLP-vaccination induced a mechanistically broad immune response including upregulation of both innate and adaptive humoral and cellular components (mx, isg12, mhc I, mhc II, igm, and igt). No clinical side effects of the VLP vaccination at either tissue or performance levels were observed. The results altogether suggested the VLP-based vaccine to be suitable for clinical testing under farming conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1477
JournalPathogens
Volume10
Issue number11
Number of pages26
ISSN2076-0817
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Vital nervous necrosis
  • Duration of immunity
  • Virus-like particle
  • Protective immunity
  • Neutralizing antibodies
  • Passive immunization

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