Vaccination with UV-inactivated nodavirus partly protects European sea bass against infection, while inducing few changes in immunity


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Abstract

Developing viral vaccines through the ultraviolet (UV) inactivation of virus is promising technique since it is straightforward and economically affordable, while the resulting viruses are capable of eliciting an adequate antiviral immune response. Nodavirus (NNV) is a devastating virus that mainly affects European sea bass juveniles and larvae, causing serious economic losses in Mediterranean aquaculture. In this work, a potential vaccine consisting on UV-inactivated NNV (iNNV) was generated and administered to healthy juveniles of European sea bass to elucidate whether it triggers the immune response and improves their survival upon challenge. First, iNNV failed to replicate in cell cultures and its intraperitoneal administration to sea bass juveniles also failed to produce fish mortality and induction of the type I interferon (IFN) pathway, indicating that the NNV was efficiently inactivated. By contrast, iNNV administration induced significant serum non-specific antimicrobial activity as well as a specific antiviral activity and immunoglobulin M (IgM) titres against NNV. Interestingly, few changes were observed at transcriptional level in genes related to either innate or adaptive immunity, suggesting that iNNV could be modulating the immune response at protein or functional level. In addition, the iNNV vaccinated group showed improved survival, reaching a relative survival percentage of 57.9%. Moreover, challenged fish that had been vaccinated presented increased serum antibacterial, antiviral and IgM titres, as well as the higher transcription of mhc1a, ifn, isg15 and cd8a genes in brain, while in the head-kidney the transcription of mhc1a, mhc2b and cd8a was down-regulated and mx, isg15 and tcrb was up-regulated. Although the UV-inactivated vaccine against NNV showed promising results, more effort should be addressed to improving this prophylactic method by increasing our understanding of its action mechanisms, thus enabling the mortality rate of NNV to be further reduced.Graphical abstractHighlightsUV inactivation of nodavirus resulted efficient and safe.The iNNV vaccine enhances both innate and specific humoral immunity in European sea bass.iNNV vaccination hardly regulates expression of important immune genes.The iNNV improves survival and immunity upon NNV infection.

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