Tuesday February 9, 2010, from 12.00 to 13.00
Institute of Virology, University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
"Protection from CMV infection by the humoral immune response"
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitously distributed pathogen that causes severe disease in immunosuppressed patients and infected newborns. The development of a vaccine for prevention of HCMV-related disease is considered a major goal. As with all successful vaccines, induction of potent antiviral antibodies will also be a prerequisite for an effective HCMV vaccine. However, the contribution of the humoral immune response to protection from HCMV disease is not known or even denied. We have used the murine CMV model to study the protective capacity of antiviral antibody. Our data clearly show that antiviral antibodies are perfectly capable of protecting immunosuppressed hosts from CMV disease and death. We are now exploring the mechanism of protection. One dominant antigen with respect to induction of antiviral antibodies is the glycoprotein gB, which is currently also used as vaccine in clinical trials. Interestingly, little is known about the humoral immune response to this antigen following natural infection and/or vaccination in humans. We have started to dissect the antibody repertoire against this protein following natural infection. This knowledge may be valuable in vaccine design.