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The effects of formalin on the infectivity and immunogenicity of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) serotype Indiana were investigated. We found that formalin inactivation of VSV prevents infection of Vero cells in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, as shown by fluorometric cell analysis and inhibition of plaque formation. Inactivated VSV failed to induce significant cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses in vivo or after restimulation in vitro. In contrast, the early immunoglobulin M (IgM) response, which is T help independent in the VSV system, was unaltered, suggesting normal antigenicity for and induction of B cells. However, no switch to IgG occurred, demonstrating failure of induction of T help. If cross-reactive T help was provided by previous infection with a second serotype of VSV (New Jersey), the IgG response was almost completely restored, confirming that the absence of IgG was due to lack of T help. A formalin-treated preparation of glycoprotein of VSV led to a delayed but otherwise normal IgG response, whereas treatment of VSV with UV light or beta-propiolactone reduced IgG titers to the same extent as did formalin. These results suggest that loss of infectivity and the ensuing lack of amplification of viral antigens of formaldehyde-inactivated VSV is the major factor impairing induction of specific T-helper cell responses.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of virology

Publication Date





3917 - 3922


Department of Pathology, University of Zürich, Switzerland.


B-Lymphocytes, T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Animals, Mice, Inbred Strains, Mice, Vesiculovirus, Formaldehyde, Antibodies, Viral, Antigens, T-Independent, Neutralization Tests, Virus Replication, Lymphocyte Cooperation, Antibody Formation, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus