Protective Efficacy of Nucleic Acid Vaccines Against Transmission of Zika Virus during Pregnancy in Mice

Brett W. Jagger, Kimberly A. Dowd, Rita E. Chen, Pritesh Desai, Bryant Foreman, Katherine E. Burgomaster, Sunny Himansu, Wing Pui Kong, Barney S. Graham, Theodore C. Pierson, Michael S. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Zika virus (ZIKV) caused an epidemic of congenital malformations in 2015-2016. Although many vaccine candidates have been generated, few have demonstrated efficacy against congenital ZIKV infection. Here, we evaluated lipid-encapsulated messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and a DNA plasmid vaccine encoding the prM-E genes of ZIKV in mouse models of congenital infection. Although the DNA vaccine provided comparable efficacy against vertical transmission of ZIKV, the mRNA vaccines, including one that minimizes antibody-dependent enhancement of infection, elicited higher levels of antigen-specific long-lived plasma cells and memory B cells. Despite the induction of robust neutralizing antibody titers by all vaccines, breakthrough seeding of the placenta and fetal head was observed in a small subset of type I interferon signaling-deficient immunocompromised dams. In comparison, evaluation of one of the mRNA vaccines in a human STAT2-knockin transgenic immunocompetent mouse showed complete protection against congenital ZIKV transmission. These data will inform ongoing human ZIKV vaccine development efforts and enhance our understanding of the correlates of vaccine-induced protection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1577-1588
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 8 2019


  • Zika
  • congenital Zika syndrome
  • neutralizing antibody
  • pregnancy
  • vaccine
  • vaccine


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