Immunol Cell Biol 2008 Jan 9;86(1):80-6. Epub 2007 Oct 9.
Division of Biochemistry and Moelcular Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
Even though smallpox has been eradicated, the threat of accidental or intentional release has highlighted the fact there is little consensus about correlates of protective immunity or immunity against re-infection with the causative poxvirus, variola virus (VARV). As the existing vaccine for smallpox has unacceptable rates of side effects and complications, new vaccines are urgently needed. Surrogate animal models of VARV infection in humans, including vaccinia virus (VACV) and ectromelia virus (ECTV) infection in mice, monkeypox virus (MPXV) infection in macaques have been used as tools to dissect the immune response to poxviruses. Mousepox, caused by ECTV, a natural mouse pathogen, is arguably the best surrogate small-animal model, as it shares many aspects of virus biology, pathology and clinical features with smallpox in humans. The requirements for recovery from a primary ECTV infection have been well characterized and include type I and II interferons, natural killer cells, CD4T cells, CD8T cell effector function and antibody. From a vaccine standpoint, it is imperative that the requirements for recovery from secondary infection are also identified. We have investigated host immune parameters in response to a secondary ECTV infection, and have identified that interferon and CD8T cell effector functions are not essential; however, T- and B-cell interaction and antibody are absolutely critical for recovery from a secondary challenge. The central role of antibody has been also been identified in the secondary response to other poxviruses. These findings have important clinical implications and would greatly assist the design of therapeutic interventions and new vaccines for smallpox.