B-Cell Responses to Intramuscular Administration of a Bivalent Virus-Like Particle Human Norovirus Vaccine.
Human noroviruses (HuNoVs) are a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. A virus-like particle (VLP) candidate vaccine induces the production of serum histo-blood group antigen (HBGA)-blocking antibodies, the first identified correlate of protection from HuNoV gastroenteritis. Recently, virus-specific IgG memory B cells were identified to be another potential correlate of protection against HuNoV gastroenteritis. We assessed B-cell responses following intramuscular administration of a bivalent (genogroup I, genotype 1 [GI.1]/genogroup II, genotype 4 [GII.4]) VLP vaccine using protocols identical to those used to evaluate cellular immunity following experimental GI.1 HuNoV infection. The kinetics and magnitude of cellular immunity to G1.1 infection were compared to those after VLP vaccination. Intramuscular immunization with the bivalent VLP vaccine induced the production of antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) and memory B cells. ASC responses peaked at day 7 after the first dose of vaccine and returned to nearly baseline levels by day 28. Minimal increases in ASCs were seen after a second vaccine dose at day 28. Antigen-specific IgG memory B cells persisted at day 180 postvaccination for both GI.1 and GII.4 VLPs. The overall trends in B-cell responses to vaccination were similar to the trends in the responses to infection, where there was a greater bias of an ASC response toward IgA and a memory B-cell response to IgG. The magnitude of the ASC and memory B-cell responses to the GI.1 VLP component of the vaccine was also comparable to that of the responses following GI.1 infection. The production of IgG memory B cells and persistence at day 180 is a key finding and underscores the need for future studies to determine if IgG memory B cells are a correlate of protection following vaccination. (This study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under registration no. NCT01168401.).