Neutralizing antibodies are a critical part of the immune armory for defense against viruses, and the mechanism by which many effective vaccines work to protect against viral infections. However, infections by rapidly evolving and genetically diverse viruses are often characterized by ineffective neutralizing antibody responses. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is a highly genetically diverse RNA virus that causes PRRS, the most significant disease of pigs worldwide. The prevailing view of immunity to PRRSV is characterized by delayed and ineffectual production of neutralizing antibodies lacking cross-reactivity that is necessary for vaccine efficacy. Using an ELISA-based neutralizing assay developed to analyze PRRSV growth in porcine alveolar macrophages, the naturally permissive cell of PRRSV, we showed that sera from previously infected commercial sows had high levels of neutralizing activity against diverse PRRSV strains, including across distinct genotypes of PRRSV. Fifty percent cross-neutralization titers in excess of 1/1024 were observed. Neutralizing activity was dose-dependent and was maintained in the immunoglobulin fraction. Presence of high-titer, anti-PRRSV antibody activity that cross-neutralizes diverse strains of virus has prompted reevaluation of the role of neutralizing antibodies for cross-protection against PRRSV under field conditions. Understanding conditions that favor development of cross-neutralizing activity will be crucial for improved strategies to enhance cross-protection against PRRSV. More detailed studies are expected to elucidate mechanisms of neutralizing antibody production and maturation and to investigate conserved epitope targets of cross-neutralization in this rapidly evolving virus.
- Infectious disease