Mice vaccinated intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 10 p.f.u. of a vaccinia virus recombinant expressing either the glycoprotein (rVac-G) or nucleoprotein (rVac-N) of rabies virus 3 weeks before challenge were protected against peripheral lethal infection. Similarly, by post-exposure vaccination in which mice were first infected with rabies virus and subsequently vaccinated i.p. with the recombinant, rVac-G conferred protection when given immediately following infection and up to 24 h after infection. Prior treatment of those mice with anti-CD8 monoclonal antibodies (MAb) did not significantly affect the outcome of the infection. In contrast, rVac-N failed to confer protection even with higher doses (10 p.f.u.) of the virus or even when administered by the intradermal route. Anti-nucleoprotein antibody production by these mice was not suppressed by prior rabies virus infection and the levels and the time of antibody production were similar to those of anti-glycoprotein antibody production in mice vaccinated with rVac-G after rabies virus infection. The cytotoxic T lymphocyte response was also not down-regulated by rabies virus in the mice that were given rVac-N. Possible mechanism(s) for the ineffectiveness of rVac-N by post-exposure vaccination in contrast to pre-exposure vaccination was discussed.


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