Food Animal Health Research Program, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Colleage of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH, USA. [Email]
BACKGROUND : Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) causes diarrhea in all ages of pigs with 50-100% mortality rates in neonatal piglets. In the United States, inactivated and subunit PEDV vaccines for pregnant sows are available, but fail to induce sufficient protection in neonatal piglets farrowed from PEDV naïve sows. A safe and efficacious live attenuated vaccine that can prime mucosal immune responses is urgently needed. In this study, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of two attenuated PEDV vaccine candidates, the emerging non-S INDEL PEDV strain PC22A at the 100th cell culture passage level - Clone no. 4 (P100C4) and at the 120th passage level (P120), in weaned pigs. RESULTS : Four groups of 40-day-old weaned pigs were inoculated orally with PEDV PC22A-P3 (virulent), -P100C4, -P120, and mock, respectively, and challenged with the P3 virus at 24 days post-inoculation (dpi). After inoculation, P3 caused diarrhea in all pigs with a high level of fecal viral RNA shedding. P100C4 and P120 did not cause diarrhea in pigs, although viral RNA was detected in feces of all pigs, except for one P100C4-inoculated pig. Compared with the P120 group, P3- and P100C4-inoculated pigs had higher serum PEDV-specific IgG and viral neutralizing (VN) antibody (Ab) titers at 14 dpi. After the challenge, no pigs in the P3 group but all pigs in the P100C4, P120, and mock groups had diarrhea. Compared with the P120 group, pigs in the P100C4 group had a more rapid decline in fecal PEDV RNA shedding titers, higher titers of serum PEDV-specific IgG, IgA, and VN Abs, and higher numbers of intestinal IgA Ab-secreting cells. CONCLUSIONS : PEDV PC22A P100C4 and P120 were fully attenuated in weaned pigs but failed to elicit protection against virulent P3 challenge. P100C4 induced higher PEDV-specific antibody responses than P120 post inoculation resulting in a greater anamnestic response post challenge. Therefore, P100C4 potentially could be tested as a priming vaccine or be further modified using reverse genetics. It also can be administered in multiple doses or be combined with inactivated or subunit vaccines and adjuvants as a PEDV vaccination regimen, whose efficacy can be tested in the future.