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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Journal of Virology.

Volume 89, Issue 5, 2015, Pages 2842-2848.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1128/JVI.03409-14

Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


UNLABELLED: Replication-deficient rabies virus (RABV)-based vaccines induce rapid and potent antibody responses via T cell-independent and T cell-dependent mechanisms. To further investigate early events in vaccine-induced antibody responses against RABV infections, we studied the role of macrophages as mediators of RABV-based vaccine immunogenicity. In this report, we show that a recombinant matrix gene-deleted RABV-based vaccine (rRABV-ΔM) infects and activates primary murine macrophages in vitro. Immunization of mice with live RABV-based vaccines results in accumulation of macrophages at the site of immunization, which suggests that macrophages in tissues support the development of effective anti-RABV B cell responses. However, we show that draining lymph node macrophages, but not macrophages at the site of immunization, are essential for the generation of germinal center B cells, follicular T helper cells, and RABV-specific antibodies. Our findings have implications for the design of new RABV-based vaccines for which early immunological events are important for the protection against RABV in postexposure settings.

IMPORTANCE: More than two-thirds of the world's population live in regions where rabies is endemic. Postexposure prophylaxis is the primary means of treating humans. Identifying immunological principles that guide the development of rapid and potent antibody responses against rabies infections will greatly increase our ability to produce more-effective rabies vaccines. Here we report that macrophages in the draining lymph node, but not in the tissue at the site of immunization are important for vaccine-induced antibody responses to rabies. Information gleaned from this study may help guide the development of a single-dose vaccine against rabies infections.

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