Journal of virology

Prophylaxis with a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) anti-G protein monoclonal antibody shifts the adaptive immune response to RSV rA2-line19F infection from Th2 to Th1 in BALB/c mice.

PMID 24990999


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the single most important cause of serious lower respiratory tract infections in young children, yet no highly effective treatment or vaccine is available. In the present study, we investigated the effect of prophylactic treatment with the intact and F(ab')2 forms of an anti-G protein monoclonal antibody (MAb), 131-2G, on the humoral and cellular adaptive immune responses to RSV rA2-line19F (r19F) challenge in BALB/c mice. The F(ab')2 form of 131-2G does not decrease virus replication, but intact 131-2G does. The serum specimens for antibodies and spleen cells for memory T cell responses to RSV antigens were analyzed at 30, 45, 75, and 95 days postinfection (p.i.) with or without prior treatment with 131-2G. The ratios of Th2 to Th1 antibody isotypes at each time p.i indicated that both forms of MAb 131-2G shifted the subclass response from a Th2 (IgG1 and IgG2b) to a Th1 (IgG2A) bias. The ratio of IgG1 to IgG2A antibody titer was 3-fold to 10-fold higher for untreated than MAb-treated mice. There was also some increase in IgG (22% ± 13% increase) and neutralization (32% increase) in antibodies with MAb 131-2G prophylaxis at 75 days p.i. Treatment with 131-2G significantly (P ≤ 0.001) decreased the percentage of interleukin-4 (IL-4)-positive CD4 and CD8 cells in RSV-stimulated spleen cells at all times p.i., while the percentage of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) T cells significantly (P ≤ 0.001) increased ≥ 75 days p.i. The shift from a Th2- to a Th1-biased T cell response in treated compared to untreated mice likely was directed by the much higher levels of T-box transcription factor (T-bet) (≥ 45% versus <10%) in CD4 and CD8 T cells and lower levels of Gata-3 (≤ 2% versus ≥ 6%) in CD4 T cells in peptide-stimulated, day 75 p.i. spleen cells. These data show that the RSV G protein affects both humoral and cellular adaptive immune responses, and induction of 131-2G-like antibodies might improve the safety and long-term efficacy of an RSV vaccine. The data in this report suggest that the RSV G protein not only contributes to disease but also dampens the host immune response to infection. Both effects of G likely contribute to difficulties in achieving an effective vaccine. The ability of MAb 131-2G to block these effects of G suggests that inducing antibodies similar to 131-2G should prevent disease and enhance the adaptive immune response with later RSV infection. The fact that 131-2G binds to the 13-amino-acid region conserved among all strains and that flanking sequences are conserved within group A or group B strains simplifies the task of developing a vaccine to induce 131-2G-like antibodies. If our findings in mice apply to humans, then including the 131-2G binding region of G in a vaccine should improve its safety and efficacy.