Identification of vaccine-derived rotavirus strains in children with acute gastroenteritis in Japan, 2012-2015

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 13;12(9):e0184067. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184067. eCollection 2017.


Two live attenuated oral rotavirus vaccines, Rotarix and RotaTeq, have been introduced as voluntary vaccination in Japan since 2011 and 2012, respectively. Effectiveness of the vaccines has been confirmed, whereas concerns such as shedding of the vaccine strains and gastroenteritis cases caused by vaccine strains are not well assessed. We aimed to identify the vaccine strains in children with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) to investigate the prevalence of AGE caused by vaccination or horizontal transmission of vaccine strains. A total of 1,824 stool samples were collected from children with AGE at six outpatient clinics in 2012-2015. Among all, 372 group A rotavirus (RVA) positive samples were screened for vaccine components by real-time RT-PCR which were designed to differentiate vaccine strains from rotavirus wild-type strains with high specificity. For samples possessing both vaccine and wild-type strains, analyses by next-generation sequencing (NGS) were conducted to characterize viruses existed in the intestine. As a result, Rotarix-derived strains were identified in 6 of 372 (1.6%) RVA positive samples whereas no RotaTeq strain was detected. Among six samples, four possessed Rotarix-derived strains while two possessed both Rotarix-derived strains and wild-type strains. In addition, other pathogens such as norovirus, enterovirus and E.coli were detected in four samples. The contribution of these vaccine strains to each patient's symptoms was unclear as all of the cases were vaccinated 2-14 days before sample collection. Proportion of average coverage for each segmented gene by NGS strongly suggested the concurrent infection of the vaccine-derived strain and the wild-type strain rather than reassortment of these two strains in one sample. This is the first study to report the prevalence of vaccine-derived strains in patients with RVA AGE in Japan as 1.6% without evidence of horizontal transmission. The results emphasized the importance of continuous monitoring on vaccine strains and their clinical impacts on children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feces / virology
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology*
  • Gastroenteritis / virology*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Rotavirus / immunology*
  • Rotavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Rotavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Rotavirus Infections / virology
  • Rotavirus Vaccines / isolation & purification*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / isolation & purification


  • RIX4414 vaccine
  • RNA, Viral
  • RotaTeq
  • Rotavirus Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Attenuated

Grant support

This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Grant number: 24390266, 16H05360) and Public Foundation of the Vaccination Research Center (2015-34). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.