The effect of cytokine adjuvancy on a bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) DNA vaccine expressing the major glycoprotein E2 was investigated in mice. Murine interleukin-2 (IL-2) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) were chosen for their potential ability to enhance the humoral and cellular immune responses involved in protection against BVDV. Both cytokines, co-administered as separate plasmid constructs, had a marked effect on ELISA and neutralising antibody titres, improving the spectrum of neutralisation induced by the E2 DNA vaccine, as demonstrated in heterologous neutralisation assays. The predominance of IgG2a isotypes, in sera from all DNA injected groups, indicated a Th1 biased immune response. Antigen specific proliferation of murine splenocytes from immunised mice was enhanced by cytokine co-administration, with the highest stimulation indexes observed in the group co-injected with the GM-CSF construct. These results obtained in the mouse (Balb/c; H2-kd) animal model demonstrate the value of the two cytokines as adjuvants for the E2 DNA vaccine. The need for an adjuvant in this system was emphasised by the MHC restriction observed when C57BL/6 mice (H2-kb) were immunised with the E2 DNA construct. Antibody levels were dramatically lower in this mouse strain.
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