Plasmids that expressed the nucleocapsid, haemagglutinin and fusion proteins of measles virus (MV) were used to immunize cotton rats () against intranasal MV infection. After immunization with all three plasmids, T cell responses and MV-specific antibodies were induced. A reduction in virus titre was observed in lung tissue from animals immunized with plasmids expressing the viral glycoproteins. Histologically, however, a moderate peribronchitis was observed after immunization with the plasmid expressing the fusion protein whereas, after immunization with plasmids expressing haemagglutinin or both glycoproteins, only mild or focal peribronchitis was seen. Immunization with the nucleocapsid did not reduce virus titres, probably because of the failure to induce neutralizing antibodies. A disadvantage of plasmid immunization was its inefficacy in the presence of MV-specific ‘maternal’ antibodies. This indicates that genetic immunization has to be improved to be a useful alternative vaccine against measles.


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