2019 Volume 81 Issue 12 Pages 1753-1762
Equine influenza is a leading cause for respiratory illness in equines. Major control measures involve vaccination which requires continuous harmonization owing to antigenic drift. The present study focused on assessing the protective efficacy of an inactivated recombinant equine influenza virus (rgEIV) vaccine candidate adjuvanted with MontanideTM Pet Gel in murine model. The rgEIV was generated using reverse genetics by incorporating HA and NA segments from EIV/H3N8, clade 2-Florida sublineage in an A/WSN/33 /H1N1 backbone and inactivated by formalin. The vaccine was prepared by mixing inactivated rgEIV with MontanideTM Pet Gel adjuvant followed by intranasal inoculation into BALB/c mice intranasally. The immune responses and protective efficacy of the vaccine was evaluated by measurement of antibody titer, immunoglobulin subtyping, cytokines, clinical signs and pathological lesions after immunization and challenge with wild EIV. Serology and cytokine expression pattern indicated that the vaccine activated mixed Th1- and Th2-like responses of vaccine. Booster immunization stimulated strong antibody responses (HAI titre: 192 ± 28.6) at 42 days post immunization and the predominant antibody subtype was IgG1. Upregulation of interferon (IFN)-gamma, interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-2 levels indicates effective induction of Th1 type response. We found that vaccination has protected mice against equine influenza virus challenge as adjudged through a lack of nonappearance of visible clinical signs of disease, no loss of body weight loss, reduced pathology in the lungs and markedly reduced virus shedding from the respiratory tract. Therefore, we conclude that recombinant EIV vaccine candidate adjuvanted with MontanideTM Pet Gel could aid in quick harmonization of the vaccines through replacement of HA and NA genes for control of EIV outbreaks.