Interleukin-12 enhances the virus-specific interferon gamma response of pigs to an inactivated pseudorabies virus vaccine

Federico A. Zuckermann, Robert J. Husmann, Rachel Schwartz, Julie Brandt, Enric Mateu De Antonio, Stephen Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell-mediated immunity is a major component of the host defense system against viral infections. Since interleukin (IL)-12 has been shown to be a potent stimulus for the in vivo generation of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ)- producing T cells (i.e. Th-1 cells) in laboratory animals, we evaluated the effect of IL-12 on the cellular immune response of pigs to vaccination against pseudorabies virus (PrV), a herpesvirus of swine. The magnitude of the cellular immune response was measured by IFN-γ ELISPOT analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from pigs which had been immunized twice, at 2-week intervals, with either, modified live virus (MLV) alone or with a commercial inactivated PrV vaccine with or without the coadministration of human recombinant IL-12 (HrIL-12). No significant differences in the titer of virus-neutralizing antibodies or in the intensity of the virus-specific lymphoproliferative response among the different treatment groups was observed. However, the number of virus-specific IFN-γ- producing cells among PBMC isolated from animals receiving the MLV vaccine was on average 3.5 times more than animals immunized with the inactivated vaccine (P = 0.01). Administration of the inactivated vaccine and IL-12 induced a two-fold higher frequency of virus-specific IFN-γ-producing cells from that induced by the inactivated vaccine alone (P < 0.05). Despite this enhancement, the level of protection from lethal PrV challenge provided by the inactivated vaccine in combination with IL-12 was the same as that induced by the inactivated vaccine alone. Both of these vaccination regimes provided significantly lower levels of protection than those afforded by the MLV vaccine. This study demonstrates that an inactivated PrV vaccine is a poor inducer of virus-specific IFN-γ-producing cells and that this response can be enhanced by administration of exogenous IL-12. The data provides evidence of a dichotomy in the humoral and cellular immune responses of pigs to a viral antigen and implies the existence of a Th-1/Th-2 type regulation of the anti-viral immune response in pigs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 15 1998


  • Cellular immunity
  • IL-12
  • Interferon gamma
  • Pig
  • Pseudorabies virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • General Veterinary


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