Product(s) used in this publication: PepMix™ Peptide Pools
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a betaherpesvirus, can cause severe disease in immunosuppressed patients and following congenital infection. A vaccine that induces both humoral and cellular immunity may be required to prevent congenital infection. Dense bodies (DBs) are complex, noninfectious particles produced by HCMV-infected cells and may represent a vaccine option. As knowledge of the antigenicity and immunogenicity of DB is incomplete, we explored characterization methods and defined DB production methods, followed by systematic evaluation of neutralization and cell-mediated immune responses to the DB material in BALB/c mice. DBs purified from Towne-infected cultures treated with the viral terminase inhibitor 2-bromo-5,6-dichloro-1-beta-d-ribofuranosyl benzimidazole riboside (BDCRB) were characterized by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), two-dimensional fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE), immunoblotting, quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and other methods. The humoral and cellular immune responses to DBs were compared to the immunogenicity of glycoprotein B (gB) administered with the adjuvant AddaVax (gB/AddaVax). DBs induced neutralizing antibodies that prevented viral infection of cultured fibroblasts and epithelial cells and robust cell-mediated immune responses to multiple viral proteins, including pp65, gB, and UL48. In contrast, gB/AddaVax failed to induce neutralizing antibodies that prevented infection of epithelial cells, highlighting a critical difference in the humoral responses induced by these vaccine candidates. Our data advance the potential for the DB vaccine approach, demonstrate important immunogenicity properties, and strongly support the further evaluation of DBs as a CMV vaccine candidate.