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For the last 30 yr, interest in vaccinia virus immune monitoring has focused on the use of the vaccinia virus as a recombinant vaccine vector and the potential detrimental effect of antivector immunity on subsequent vaccination with a recombinant vaccinia virus. However, interest in this area has intensified after the publication of reports suggesting that smallpox may be a major pathogen selected for bioterrorist activities. Owing to the unacceptably high incidence of complications induced by previous effective smallpox vaccine strains, alternative safer strains (e.g., modified vaccinia Ankara [MVA]) are being assessed for their antigenicity in clinical trials. The exact immune effector mechanism responsible for vaccine-induced protection to smallpox infection has not been fully elucidated, although it is believed that neutralizing antibody plays a major role. This chapter describes a simple enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to quantify vaccinia virus antibody titer. Additionally, to define serum-neutralizing activity, both a classical plaque reduction assay and a high-throughput 96-well plate method based on reduction of recombinant vaccinia virus expressed beta-galactosidase is described. Furthermore, details are given for a T-cell proliferation assay, primarily for monitoring T-helper CD4 activity and an enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay for CD8 analysis. The use of reliable immunological assays is vital in assessing the potential efficacy of new vaccines to protect against smallpox infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Methods Mol Biol

Publication Date





243 - 266


Antibodies, Viral, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Humans, Immune System, Neutralization Tests, Smallpox Vaccine, Vaccinia, Vaccinia virus