Pre-existing immunity to cytomegalovirus in macaques influences human CMV vaccine responses in preclinical models.
Development of a human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) vaccine is a Tier 1 priority by the National Institutes of Medicine, as HCMV is the most common congenital infection globally and most frequent infectious complication in transplant patients. Relevant preclinical non-human primate models used for testing HCMV vaccine immunogenicity are rhesus and cynomolgous monkeys. However, a complication in using these models is that species-specific CMV variants are endemic in non-human primate breeding colonies. We hypothesize that natural immunity to species-specific CMV in rhesus and cynomolgous monkeys impacts HCMV vaccine immunogenicity and may interfere with our ability to fully interpret vaccine immunogenicity. A modified mRNA vaccine encoding HCMV glycoprotein (gB) and the pentameric complex (PC) packaged in lipid nanoparticles (LNP) was delivered intramuscularly to groups of cynomolgous (n = 16, CyCMV-seropositive) and rhesus macaques (n = 24, RhCMV-seropositive). High pre-vaccination IgG binding responses to HCMV gB were present in both species, but pre-vaccination binding responses to PC were mostly present in rhesus macaques. Yet, at least a log increase in both PC and gB-specific plasma IgG levels was detected post-second HCMV mRNA vaccination in both species. Both species responded with high epithelial cell neutralizing antibody responses at 4 weeks post second HCMV mRNA vaccination, but limited fibroblast neutralizing antibodies. HCMV gB + PC mRNA/LNP vaccine also elicited IgG binding responses to cell-associated gB, an identified immune correlate of protection, in both species after the second vaccination, and there was a moderately strong direct correlation between this pre- and post-vaccination response in rhesus macaques. Based on the correlation between pre-existing and post-vaccine gB-specific binding responses in rhesus macaques, we conclude that species-specific CMV variant-specific antibody responses contribute to antibody responses to HCMV vaccination in primate models, indicating that pre-existing immunity must be taken into account in non-human primate preclinical models and will impact immunogenicity of HCMV vaccines seropositive human vaccinees.
Webster, H; Valencia, S; Kumar, A; Chan, C; Dennis, M; Roark, H; Woods, A; John, S; Carfi, A; Permar, SR
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