Current vaccines to prevent avian influenza rely upon labor-intensive parenteral injection. A more advantageous vaccine would be capable of administration by mass immunization methods such as spray or water vaccination. A recombinant vaccine (rNDV-AIV-H7) was constructed by using a lentogenic paramyxovirus type 1 vector (Newcastle disease virus [NDV] B1 strain) with insertion of the hemagglutinin (HA) gene from avian influenza virus (AIV) A/chicken/NY/13142-5/94 (H7N2). The recombinant virus had stable insertion and expression of the H7 AIV HA gene as evident by detection of HA expression via immunofluorescence in infected Vero cells. The rNDV-AIV-H7 replicated in 9–10 day embryonating chicken eggs and exhibited hemagglutinating activity from both NDV and AI proteins that was inhibited by antisera against both NDV and AIV H7. Groups of 2-week-old white Leghorn chickens were vaccinated with transfectant NDV vector (tNDV), rNDV-AIV-H7, or sterile allantoic fluid and were challenged 2 weeks later with viscerotropic velogenic NDV (vvNDV) or highly pathogenic (HP) AIV. The sham-vaccinated birds were not protected from vvNDV or HP AIV challenge. The transfectant NDV vaccine provided 70% protection for NDV challenge but did not protect against AIV challenge. The rNDV-AIV-H7 vaccine provided partial protection (40%) from vvNDV and HP AIV challenge. The serologic response was examined in chickens that received one or two immunizations of the rNDV-AIV-H7 vaccine. Based on hemagglutination inhibition and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests, chickens that received a vaccine boost seroconverted to AIV H7, but the serologic response was weak in birds that received only one vaccination. This demonstrates the potential for NDV for use as a vaccine vector in expressing AIV proteins.
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