Cross-neutralisation of viruses of the tick-borne encephalitis complex following tick-borne encephalitis vaccination and/or infection

Alexander J. McAuley, Bevan Sawatsky, Thomas Ksiazek, Maricela Torres, Miša Korva, Stanka Lotrič-Furlan, Tatjana Avšič-Županc, Veronika Von Messling, Michael R. Holbrook, Alexander N. Freiberg, David W.C. Beasley, Dennis A. Bente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The tick-borne encephalitis complex contains a number of flaviviruses that share close genetic homology, and are responsible for significant human morbidity and mortality with widespread geographical range. Although many members of this complex have been recognised for decades, licenced human vaccines with broad availability are only available for tick-borne encephalitis virus. While tick-borne encephalitis virus vaccines have been demonstrated to induce significant protective immunity, as determined by virus-neutralisation titres, vaccine breakthrough (clinical infection following complete vaccination), has been described. The aim of this study was to confirm the cross-neutralisation of tick-borne flaviviruses using mouse immune ascitic fluids, and to determine the magnitude of cross-neutralising antibody titres in sera from donors following tick-borne encephalitis vaccination, infection, and vaccine breakthrough. The results demonstrate that there is significant cross-neutralisation of representative members of the tick-borne encephalitis complex following vaccination and/or infection, and that the magnitude of immune responses varies based upon the exposure type. Donor sera successfully neutralised most of the viruses tested, with 85% of vaccinees neutralising Kyasanur forest disease virus and 73% of vaccinees neutralising Alkhumra virus. By contrast, only 63% of vaccinees neutralised Powassan virus, with none of these neutralisation titres exceeding 1:60. Taken together, the data suggest that tick-borne encephalitis virus vaccination may protect against most of the members of the tick-borne encephalitis complex including Kyasanur forest disease virus and Alkhumra virus, but that the neutralisation of Powassan virus following tick-borne encephalitis vaccination is minimal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
Journalnpj Vaccines
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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