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Abstract

We have previously found that whole influenza virus vaccine induced a more rapid and stronger humoral response, particularly after the first dose of vaccine, than split virus vaccine in mice. In this study, we have evaluated the protective efficacy of whole and split influenza virus vaccines in mice using a nonlethal upper respiratory tract challenge model. We have also investigated the immunological correlates associated with no or very little viral shedding after viral challenge. Vaccination resulted in reduced viral shedding and shortened the duration of infection by at least 2 days. After one dose of vaccine, whole virus vaccine generally resulted in less viral shedding than split virus vaccine. In contrast, two doses of split virus vaccine, particularly the highest vaccine strengths of 15 and 30 µg HA, most effectively limited viral replication and these mice had high concentrations of prechallenge influenza-specific serum IgG. The vaccine formulation influenced the IgG2a/IgG1 ratio, and this IgG subclass profile was maintained upon challenge to some extent, although it did not influence the level of viral shedding. The concentration of postvaccination serum IgG showed an inverse relationship with the level of viral shedding after viral challenge. Therefore, serum IgG is an important factor in limiting viral replication in the upper respiratory tract upon challenge of an antigenically similar virus.