Modified vaccinia Ankara virus (MVA) is extensively used as a vaccine vector. We have previously observed that MVAΔ008, an MVA lacking the gene that codes for interleukin-18 binding protein, significantly increases CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell responses to vaccinia virus (VACV) epitopes and recombinant HIV antigens. However, the efficacy of this vector against pathogens or tumor cells remains unclear. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the cellular immune response and the protection induced by recombinant MVAs encoding the model antigen ovalbumin (OVA). We used the MO5 melanoma tumor model (OVA-expressing tumor) as an approach for evaluating the vector-induced efficacy. Our results show that MVAΔ008-OVA (optimized vector) induced higher in vivo specific cytotoxicity and ex vivo T-cell IFN-γ responses against OVA than the conventional MVA vector. Importantly, the recombinant vectors were capable of controlling MO5 tumor growth. Indeed, the administration of MVAΔ008-OVA or MVA-OVA in prophylactic and therapeutic schemes provided total protection and longer survival of mice, respectively. Overall, our results demonstrate the improved immunogenicity and the protective capacity of MVAΔ008 against a heterologous model antigen. These findings suggest that MVAΔ008 constitutes an excellent candidate for vaccine development against pathogens or cancer therapy.
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