Smallpox holds a unique position in the history of medicine. It was the first disease for which a vaccine was developed and remains the only human disease eradicated by vaccination. Although there have been claims of smallpox in Egypt, India, and China dating back millennia [1-4], the timescale of emergence of the causative agent, variola virus (VARV), and how it evolved in the context of increasingly widespread immunization, have proven controversial [4-9]. In particular, some molecular-clock-based studies have suggested that key events in VARV evolution only occurred during the last two centuries [4-6] and hence in apparent conflict with anecdotal historical reports, although it is difficult to distinguish smallpox from other pustular rashes by description alone. To address these issues, we captured, sequenced, and reconstructed a draft genome of an ancient strain of VARV, sampled from a Lithuanian child mummy dating between 1643 and 1665 and close to the time of several documented European epidemics [1, 2, 10]. When compared to vaccinia virus, this archival strain contained the same pattern of gene degradation as 20(th) century VARVs, indicating that such loss of gene function had occurred before ca. 1650. Strikingly, the mummy sequence fell basal to all currently sequenced strains of VARV on phylogenetic trees. Molecular-clock analyses revealed a strong clock-like structure and that the timescale of smallpox evolution is more recent than often supposed, with the diversification of major viral lineages only occurring within the 18(th) and 19(th) centuries, concomitant with the development of modern vaccination.
Poxviruses are widespread pathogens, which display extremely different host ranges. Whereas some poxviruses, including variola virus, display narrow host ranges, others such as cowpox viruses naturally infect a wide range of mammals. The molecular bases for differences in host range are poorly understood but apparently depend on the successful manipulation of the host antiviral response. Some poxvirus genes have been shown to confer host tropism in experimental settings and are thus called host range factors. Identified host range genes include vaccinia virus K1L, K3L, E3L, B5R, C7L and SPI-1, cowpox virus CP77/CHOhr, ectromelia virus p28 and 022, and myxoma virus T2, T4, T5, 11L, 13L, 062R and 063R. These genes encode for ankyrin repeat-containing proteins, tumor necrosis factor receptor II homologs, apoptosis inhibitor T4-related proteins, Bcl-2-related proteins, pyrin domain-containing proteins, cellular serine protease inhibitors (serpins), short complement-like repeats containing proteins, KilA-N/RING domain-containing proteins, as well as inhibitors of the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase PKR. We conducted a systematic survey for the presence of known host range genes and closely related family members in poxvirus genomes, classified them into subgroups based on their phylogenetic relationship and correlated their presence with the poxvirus phylogeny. Common themes in the evolution of poxvirus host range genes are lineage-specific duplications and multiple independent inactivation events. Our analyses yield new insights into the evolution of poxvirus host range genes. Implications of our findings for poxvirus host range and virulence are discussed.
After Edward Jenner established human vaccination over 200 years ago, attenuated poxviruses became key players to contain the deadliest virus of its own family: Variola virus (VARV), the causative agent of smallpox. Cowpox virus (CPXV) and horsepox virus (HSPV) were extensively used to this end, passaged in cattle and humans until the appearance of vaccinia virus (VACV), which was used in the final campaigns aimed to eradicate the disease, an endeavor that was accomplished by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1980. Ever since, naturally evolved strains used for vaccination were introduced into research laboratories where VACV and other poxviruses with improved safety profiles were generated. Recombinant DNA technology along with the DNA genome features of this virus family allowed the generation of vaccines against heterologous diseases, and the specific insertion and deletion of poxvirus genes generated an even broader spectrum of modified viruses with new properties that increase their immunogenicity and safety profile as vaccine vectors. In this review, we highlight the evolution of poxvirus vaccines, from first generation to the current status, pointing out how different vaccines have emerged and approaches that are being followed up in the development of more rational vaccines against a wide range of diseases.
On June 25, 2015, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended routine vaccination with live smallpox (vaccinia) vaccine (ACAM2000) for laboratory personnel who directly handle 1) cultures or 2) animals contaminated or infected with replication-competent vaccinia virus, recombinant vaccinia viruses derived from replication-competent vaccinia strains (i.e., those that are capable of causing clinical infection and producing infectious virus in humans), or other orthopoxviruses that infect humans (e.g., monkeypox, cowpox, and variola) (recommendation category: A, evidence type 2 [Box]). Health care personnel (e.g., physicians and nurses) who currently treat or anticipate treating patients with vaccinia virus infections and whose contact with replication-competent vaccinia viruses is limited to contaminated materials (e.g., dressings) and persons administering ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine who adhere to appropriate infection prevention measures can be offered vaccination with ACAM2000 (recommendation category: B, evidence type 2 [Box]). These revised recommendations update the previous ACIP recommendations for nonemergency use of vaccinia virus smallpox vaccine for laboratory and health care personnel at risk for occupational exposure to orthopoxviruses (1). Since 2001, when the previous ACIP recommendations were developed, ACAM2000 has replaced Dryvax as the only smallpox vaccine licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and available for use in the United States (2). These recommendations contain information on ACAM2000 and its use in laboratory and health care personnel at risk for occupational exposure to orthopoxviruses.
An Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) is an adverse reaction to a vaccination that goes above and beyond the usual side effects associated with vaccinations. One serious AEFI related to the smallpox vaccine is myopericarditis. Metabolomics involves the study of the low molecular weight metabolite profile of cells, tissues, and biological fluids, and provides a functional readout of the phenotype. Metabolomics may help identify a particular metabolic signature in serum of subjects who are predisposed to developing AEFIs. The goal of this study was to identify metabolic markers that may predict the development of adverse events following smallpox vaccination. Serum samples were collected from military personnel prior to and following receipt of smallpox vaccine. The study population included five subjects who were clinically diagnosed with myopericarditis, 30 subjects with asymptomatic elevation of troponins, and 31 subjects with systemic symptoms following immunization, and 34 subjects with no AEFI, serving as controls. Two-hundred pre- and post-smallpox vaccination sera were analyzed by untargeted metabolomics using (1)H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Baseline (pre-) and post-vaccination samples from individuals who experienced clinically verified myocarditis or asymptomatic elevation of troponins were more metabolically distinguishable pre- and post-vaccination compared to individuals who only experienced systemic symptoms, or controls. Metabolomics profiles pre- and post-receipt of vaccine differed substantially when an AEFI resulted. This study is the first to describe pre- and post-vaccination metabolic profiles of subjects who developed an adverse event following immunization. The study demonstrates the promise of metabolites for determining mechanisms associated with subjects who develop AEFI and the potential to develop predictive biomarkers.
Although it has been >30 years since the eradication of smallpox, the unearthing of well-preserved tissue material in which the virus may reside has called into question the viability of variola virus decades or centuries after its original occurrence. Experimental data to address the long-term stability and viability of the virus are limited. There are several instances of well-preserved corpses and tissues that have been examined for poxvirus viability and viral DNA. These historical specimens cause concern for potential exposures, and each situation should be approached cautiously and independently with the available information. Nevertheless, these specimens provide information on the history of a major disease and vaccination against it.
- Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
- Published 10 months ago
Human infection by orthopoxviruses is being reported with increasing frequency, attributed in part to the cessation of smallpox vaccination and concomitant waning of population-level immunity. In July 2015, a female resident of interior Alaska, presented to an urgent care clinic with a dermal lesion consistent with poxvirus infection. Laboratory testing of a virus isolated from the lesion confirmed infection by an Orthopoxvirus.
Attenuated poxvirus Modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) is a useful viral-based vaccine for clinical investigation, because of its excellent safety profile and property of inducing potent immune responses against recombinant ® antigens. We developed Triplex by constructing an rMVA encoding three immunodominant CMV antigens which stimulates a host anti-viral response: UL83 (pp65), UL123 (IE1-exon4), and UL122 (IE2-exon5). We completed the first clinical evaluation of the Triplex vaccine in 24 healthy adults, with or without immunity to CMV and vaccinia virus (previous DryVax smallpox vaccination). Three escalating dose levels (DL) were administered intramuscularly in 8 subjects/DL, with an identical booster injection 28 days later and one year follow-up. Vaccinations at all DL were safe with no dose limiting toxicities. No vaccine-related serious adverse events were documented. Local and systemic reactogenicity were transient and self-limiting. Robust, functional and durable Triplex driven expansions of CMV-specific T-cells were detected by measuring T-cell surface levels of 4-1BB (CD137), binding to CMV-specific HLA multimers, and IFN-γ production. Marked and durable CMV-specific T-cell responses were also detected in Triplex vaccinated CMV-seronegatives, and in DryVax vaccinated subjects. Long-lived memory effector phenotype, associated with viral control during CMV primary infection was predominantly found on the membrane of CMV-specific and functional T-cells, while off-target vaccine responses activating memory T-cells from the related herpesvirus EBV remained undetectable. Combined safety and immunogenicity results of MVA in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients (HCT) and Triplex in healthy adults motivated the initiation of a placebo-controlled multicenter trial of Triplex in HCT patients. This study is registered as NCT01941056 @ www.clinicaltrials.gov.
When vaccinations with vaccinia against smallpox and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) against tuberculosis were phased out in some high-income countries around 1980, the impact on overall mortality was not examined. Recent studies from low-income countries have suggested that these vaccines are associated with mortality reductions, not explained by specific disease protection. We examined whether vaccinia and BCG administered in childhood were associated with long-term mortality reductions in a high-income population.
Although myocarditis/pericarditis (MP) has been identified as an adverse event following smallpox vaccine (SPX), the prospective incidence of this reaction and new onset cardiac symptoms, including possible subclinical injury, has not been prospectively defined.