Rotavirus gastroenteritis is a leading cause of infant mortality in developing countries and an important cause of morbidity in children under 2 yr of age in the United States. Vaccine programs have evaluated animal rotavirus strains that are attenuated in humans but antigenically similar to some human strains. Whether a single vaccine strain can elicit protective immunity in humans to rotaviruses of the same or different serotypes is an important question in determining vaccine efficacy. We used characterized serotype-specific monoclonal antibodies directed at VP7 in a competitive solid-phase immunoassay to measure epitope-specific immune responses to serotypes 1, 2, and 3 in sera of children who received a candidate serotype-3 rotavirus vaccine. Antibodies to serotype 3 were detected in 72% of sera samples, and to serotype 1 and 2 in only 11% each. Also, a VP3-specific monoclonal antibody which neutralizes three serotypically distinct strains of rotavirus was used to detect the presence of similar antibodies in 56% of the test sera. This finding suggests a mechanism of heterotypic immunity.
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