Equine IgE responses to non-viral vaccine components

Laurel J Gershwin, Kristina A. Netherwood, Meredith Somerville Norris, Nicole E. Behrens, Matt X. Shao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Vaccination of horses is performed annually or semi-annually with multiple viral antigens, either in a combination vaccine or as separate injections. While this practice undoubtedly prevents infection from such diseases as rabies, equine influenza, West Nile virus, and equine herpes virus, the procedure is not without repercussions. Hypersensitivity reactions, including fatal anaphylactic shock, after vaccination, although uncommon, have increased in incidence in recent years. Studies reported herein document the development of IgE antibodies against non-target antigen components of equine viral vaccines. We hypothesize that viral vaccines can induce an IgE response to non-target antigens, which could elicit an adverse response after vaccination with another viral vaccine containing the same component. In one study IgE responses to components of West Nile virus vaccine were evaluated by ELISA before and after vaccination in 30 horses. In a second five-year study 77 horses were similarly tested for IgE antibodies against bovine serum albumin (BSA), a component of most viral vaccines. Mast cell sensitization was evaluated in horses with high, moderate, and negative serum BSA specific IgE using an intradermal skin test with BSA. Over the five-year period high IgE responder horses showed gradually increasing BSA specific serum IgE levels and positive skin test reactivity, yet none had an adverse event. Sera from horses that had developed adverse vaccine reactions were also tested for IgE antibodies. Several of these horses had extremely high levels of BSA-specific IgE. These data suggest that non-essential protein components of vaccines may sensitize horses for future adverse responses to vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7615-7620
Number of pages6
Issue number52
StatePublished - Dec 14 2012


  • Adverse vaccine reactions
  • Equine
  • IgE
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • veterinary(all)
  • Molecular Medicine


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