The Effect of Eukaryotic Expression Vectors and Adjuvants on DNA Vaccines in Chickens Using an Avian Influenza Model

Avian Dis. Oct-Dec 2000;44(4):861-8.


Vaccination of poultry with naked plasmid DNA has been successfully demonstrated with several different poultry pathogens, but the technology needs to be further developed before it can be practically implemented. Many different methods can conceivably enhance the efficacy of DNA vaccines, and this report examines the use of different eukaryotic expression vectors with different promoters and different adjuvants to express the influenza hemagglutinin protein. Four different promoters in five different plasmids were used to express the hemagglutinin protein of an H5 avian influenza virus, including two different immediate early cytomegaloviruses (CMVs), Rous sarcoma virus, chicken actin, and simian virus 40 promoters. All five constructs expressed detectable hemagglutinin protein in cell culture, but the pCI-neo HA plasmid with the CMV promoter provided the best response in chickens when vaccinated intramuscularly at 1 day of age on the basis of antibody titer and survivability after challenge with a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus at 6 wk postinoculation. A beneficial response was observed in birds boostered at 3 wk of age, in birds given larger amounts of DNA, and with the use of multiple injection sites to administer the vaccine. With the use of the pCI-neo construct, the effects of different adjuvants designed to increase the uptake of plasmid DNA, including 25% sucrose, diethylaminoethyl dextran, calcium phosphate, polybrene, and two different cationic liposomes, were examined. Both liposomes tested enhanced antibody titers as compared with the positive controls, but the other chemical adjuvants decreased the antibody response as compared with the control chickens that received just the plasmid alone. The results observed are promising for continued studies, but continued improvements in vaccine response and reduced costs are necessary before the technology can be commercially developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Chickens
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus / biosynthesis
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus / genetics*
  • Influenza A virus / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Vaccines, DNA / genetics*
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology
  • Vaccines, DNA / pharmacology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus
  • Vaccines, DNA