Cross-protective efficacy of inactivated whole influenza vaccines against Korean Y280 and Y439 lineage H9N2 viruses in mice
Since June 2020, the Y280 lineage H9N2 virus, which is distinct from the previously endemic Y439 lineage, has been circulating in poultry in Korea. In this study, we developed two whole inactivated vaccines, rgHS314 and vac564, against the Y280 and Y439 lineages, respectively, and evaluated their immunogenicity and protective efficacy against homologous or heterologous viral challenge in mice. Serum neutralizing antibody titers in the rgHS314-vaccinated group were higher (68 ± 8.4 10log2) than in the vac564-vaccinated group (18 ± 8.4 10log2). In homologous challenge, rgHS314 conferred 100% protection, with no severe clinical signs, no body weight loss, and no viral replication in any tissues tested except the nasal turbinate. Viral replication in the lungs at 1, 3, 5, and 7 days post-infection (dpi) was significantly lower than in the sham group (p < 0.01). By contrast, all mice in the sham group were dead by 8 dpi with severe clinical signs and weight loss. Likewise, vac564 conferred 100% protection with no weight loss and with significantly lower viral replication in the lung than in the sham group at 3 dpi (p < 0.01). However, both vaccines showed partial protection in heterologous challenge. Our results suggest that both the rgHS314 and vac564 vaccines could be candidate vaccines for further evaluation in humans.