Evaluation of the Langat/dengue 4 chimeric virus as a live attenuated tick-borne encephalitis vaccine for safety and immunogenicity in healthy adult volunteers

Peter F. Wright, Sharon Ankrah, Susan E. Henderson, Anna P. Durbin, Jim Speicher, Stephen S. Whitehead, Brian R. Murphy, Alexander G. Pletnev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


With the steady rise in tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) infections in Europe, development of a live attenuated vaccine that will generate long-lasting immunity would be of considerable benefit. A chimeric flavivirus, designated LGT/DEN4, was previously constructed to have a genome containing the prM and E protein genes of Langat virus (LGT), a naturally attenuated member of the TBEV complex, and the remaining genetic sequences derived from dengue 4 virus (DEN4). LGT/DEN4 was highly attenuated in rodents and non-human primates, and clinical trials in humans were initiated. Twenty-eight healthy seronegative adult volunteers were randomly assigned in a 4:1 ratio to receive 103 plaque-forming units (PFU) of LGT/DEN4 or placebo. Volunteers were closely monitored for clinical responses and for blood chemistry and hematological changes, and the level of viremia and the magnitude and duration of the neutralizing antibody response were determined. The LGT/DEN4 vaccine was safe and viremia was seen in only one vaccinee. Infection induced a neutralizing antibody response to wild-type LGT in 80% of volunteers with a geometric mean titer (GMT) of 1:63 present on day 42 post-immunization; however the antibody response against TBEV was both much less frequent (35%) and lower in magnitude (GMT = 1:9). To assess the response to a booster dose, 21 of the original 28 volunteers were re-randomized to receive a second dose of either 103 PFU of vaccine or placebo given 6-18 months after the first dose. The immunogenicity against either LGT or TBEV was not significantly enhanced after the second dose of vaccine. Thus, chimerization of LGT with DEN4 yielded a vaccine virus that was highly attenuated yet infectious in humans. The level of replication was sufficiently restricted to induce only a weak cross-reactive antibody response to TBEV. To provide a sufficient level of immunity to widely prevalent, highly neurovirulent strains of TBEV in humans, vaccine candidates will likely need to be based on the TBEV structural protein genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-890
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 13 2008


  • Human
  • Live virus vaccine
  • Tick-borne encephalitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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