Immunogenicity of modified vaccinia virus Ankara expressing the hemagglutinin stalk domain of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus

Giuseppina Di Mario, Elisa Soprana, Francesco Gubinelli, Maddalena Panigada, Marzia Facchini, Concetta Fabiani, Bruno Garulli, Michela Basileo, Antonio Cassone, Antonio Siccardi, Isabella Donatelli, Maria R. Castrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Vaccination offers protection against influenza, although current vaccines need to be reformulated each year. The development of a broadly protective influenza vaccine would guarantee the induction of heterosubtypic immunity also against emerging influenza viruses of a novel subtype. Vaccine candidates based on the stalk region of the hemagglutinin (HA) have the potential to induce broad and persistent protection against diverse influenza A viruses. Methods: Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing a headless HA (hlHA) of A/California/4/09 (CA/09) virus was used as a vaccine to immunize C57BL/6 mice. Specific antibody and cell-mediated immune responses were determined, and challenge experiments were performed by infecting vaccinated mice with CA/09 virus. Results: Immunization of mice with CA/09-derived hlHA, vectored by MVA, was able to elicit influenza-specific broad cross-reactive antibodies and cell-mediated immune responses, but failed to induce neutralizing antibodies and did not protect mice against virus challenge. Conclusion: Although highly immunogenic, our vaccine was unable to induce a protective immunity against influenza. A misfolded and unstable conformation of the hlHA molecule may have affected its capacity of inducing neutralizing antiviral, conformational antibodies. Design of stable hlHA-based immunogens and their delivery by recombinant MVA-based vectors has the potential of improving this promising approach for a universal influenza vaccine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalPathogens and Global Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 17 2017


  • antibodies
  • Influenza virus
  • MVA vector
  • vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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