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Paper of the Month October 2014

Prime-Boost Immunization Strategies against Chikungunya Virus

Journal of Virology. 2014. 88(22):13333-43


D Hallengard, FJ Lum, BM Kummerer, A Lulla, J Garcia-Arriaza, JK Fazakerley, P Rogues, R Le Grand, A Merits, LF Ng, M Estaban, P Liljestrom.


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a reemerging mosquito-borne alphavirus that causes debilitating arthralgia in humans. Here we describe the development and testing of novel DNA replicon and protein CHIKV vaccine candidates and evaluate their abilities to induce antigen-specific immune responses against CHIKV. We also describe homologous and heterologous prime-boost immunization strategies using novel and previously developed CHIKV vaccine candidates. Immunogenicity and efficacy were studied in a mouse model of CHIKV infection and showed that the DNA replicon and protein antigen were potent vaccine candidates, particularly when used for priming and boosting, respectively. Several prime-boost immunization strategies eliciting unmatched humoral and cellular immune responses were identified. Further characterization by antibody epitope mapping revealed differences in the qualitative immune responses induced by the different vaccine candidates and immunization strategies. Most vaccine modalities resulted in complete protection against wild-type CHIKV infection; however, we did identify circumstances under which certain immunization regimens may lead to enhancement of inflammation upon challenge. These results should help guide the design of CHIKV vaccine studies and will form the basis for further preclinical and clinical evaluation of these vaccine candidates.


As of today, there is no licensed vaccine to prevent CHIKV infection. In considering potential new vaccine candidates, a vaccine that could raise long-term protective immunity after a single immunization would be preferable. While humoral immunity seems to be central for protection against CHIKV infection, we do not yet fully understand the correlates of protection. Therefore, in the absence of a functional vaccine, there is a need to evaluate a number of different candidates, assessing their merits when they are used either in a single immunization or in a homologous or heterologous prime-boost modality. Here we show that while single immunization with various vaccine candidates results in potent responses, combined approaches significantly enhance responses, suggesting that such approaches need to be considered in the further development of an efficacious CHIKV vaccine.