The Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the leading cause of viral encephalitis. Although there are four classes of vaccines against JEV, all of them are administered by s.c or i.m injection. Here, the effectiveness of sublingual (s.l.) administration of a JEV live-attenuated vaccine or recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vaccine, including JEV prM/E, was investigated. The mice were immunized three times i.m. or s.c. One week after the final immunization by both s.l. and i.m. routes, the titers of IgG1 induced by the recombinant MVA vaccine were higher than those induced by the live-attenuated vaccine, whereas the titers of IgG2a induced by the live-attenuated vaccine were higher than those induced by the recombinant MVA vaccine. However, both vaccines induced neutralizing antibodies when given by either s.l. or i.m. routes, indicating that both vaccines induce appropriate Th1 and Th2 cell responses through the s.l. and i.m. routes. Moreover, both vaccines protected against induction of proinflammatory cytokines and focal spleen white pulp hyperplasia after viral challenge. Virus-specific IFN-γ+ CD4+ and CD8+ T cells appeared to increase in mice immunized via both s.l. and i.m. routes. Interestingly, virus-specific IL-17+ CD4+ T cells increased significantly only in the mice immunized via the s.l. route; however, the increased IL-17 did not affect pathogenicity after viral challenge. These results suggest that s.l. immunization may be as useful as i.m. injection for induction of protective immune responses against JEV by both live-attenuated and recombinant MVA vaccines.
- Japanese encephalitis virus