Immunization with recombinant rabies virus expressing Interleukin-18 exhibits enhanced immunogenicity and protection in mice.

PMID 29207661


Several studies have shown that interleukin-18 (IL-18) plays an important role in both innate and adaptive immune responses. In this study, we investigated the pathogenicity and immunogenicity of recombinant rabies virus expressing IL-18 (rHEP-IL18). Experimental results showed that Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) mice that received a single intramuscular immunization with rHEP-IL18 elicited the highest titers of serum neutralizing antibodies and the strongest cell-mediated immune responses to prevent the development of rabies disease, compared with immunization with the parent virus HEP-Flury. Mice inoculated with rHEP-IL18 developed significantly higher IFN-γ responses, increased percentages of CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocytes compared to HEP-Flury. Flow cytometry results show that rHEP-IL18 recruited more activated T- and B-cells in lymph nodes or peripheral blood, which is beneficial for virus clearance in the early stages of infection. A higher percentage of mice immunized with rHEP-IL18 survived wild-type rabies virus (RABV) challenge, compared to HEP-Flury mice. Our results show that rHEP-IL18 is promising as a novel vaccine for RABV prevention and control.