Felis catus papillomavirus type 2 (FcaPV-2) commonly infects the skin of domestic cats and has been associated with the development of skin cancer. In the present study, a FcaPV-2 virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine was produced and assessed for vaccine safety, immunogenicity, and impact on FcaPV-2 viral load. This is the first report of the use of a papillomavirus VLP vaccine in domestic cats. The FcaPV-2 VLP vaccine was given to ten adult cats that were naturally infected with FcaPV-2, and a further ten naturally infected cats were sham vaccinated as a control group. The rationale for vaccinating cats already infected with the virus was to induce neutralizing antibody titers that could prevent reinfection of new areas of skin and reduce the overall viral load, as has been demonstrated in other species. Reducing the overall FcaPV-2 viral load could reduce the risk for subsequent PV-associated cancer. The vaccine in this study was well-tolerated, as none of the cats developed any signs of local reaction or systemic illness. In the treatment group, the geometric mean anti-papillomavirus endpoint antibody titers increased significantly following vaccination from 606 (95% CI 192-1913) to 4223 (2023-8814), a 7.0-fold increase, although the individual antibody response varied depending on the level of pre-existing antibodies. Despite the immunogenicity of the vaccine, there was no significant change in FcaPV-2 viral load in the treatment group compared to the control group, over the 24 week follow-up period. A possible reason is that FcaPV-2 was already widespread in the basal skin layer of these adult cats and so preventing further cells from becoming infected had no impact on the overall viral load. Therefore, these results do not support the use of a FcaPV-2 VLP vaccine to reduce the risk for PV-associated cancer in cats in which FcaPV-2 infection is already well established. However, these results justify future studies in which the vaccine is administered to younger cats prior to FcaPV-2 infection becoming fully established.
Vet Immunol Immunopathol, 2019, 213 pp. 109888 - ?