Noroviruses, a major cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide, present antigenic diversity that must be considered for the development of an effective vaccine. In this study, we explored approaches to increase the broad reactivity of virus-like particle (VLP) norovirus vaccine candidates. The immunogenicity of a GII.4 "Consensus" VLP that was engineered from sequences of three genetically distinct naturally occurring GII.4 strains was examined for its ability to induce cross-reactive immune responses against different clusters of GII.4 noroviruses. Rabbits immunized with GII.4 Consensus VLPs developed high serum antibody titers against VLPs derived from a number of distinct wild-type GII.4 viruses, including some that had been circulating over 30 years ago. Because the sera exhibited low cross-reactivity with antigenically distinct GI norovirus strains, we investigated the serum antibody response to a bivalent vaccine formulation containing GI.1 (Norwalk virus) and GII.4 Consensus VLPs that was administered to animals under varying conditions. In these studies, the highest homologous and heterologous antibody titers to the bivalent vaccine were elicited following immunization of animals by the intramuscular route using Alhydrogel (Al(OH)(3)) as adjuvant. Our data indicate that the use of both genetically engineered norovirus VLPs that incorporate relevant epitopes from multiple strains and multivalent vaccine formulations increase the breadth of the immune response to diverse variants within a genotype and, thus, prove helpful in the rational design of VLP-based vaccines against human noroviruses.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.