Effect of mucosal and systemic immunization with virus-like particles of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus in mice

Baojing Lu, Yi Huang, Li Huang, Bao Li, Zhenhua Zheng, Ze Chen, Jianjun Chen, Qinxue Hu, Hanzhong Wang
Immunology 2010, 130 (2): 254-61
Nasal administration has emerged as a promising and attractive route for vaccination, especially for the prophylaxis of respiratory diseases. Our previous studies have shown that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) virus-like particles (VLPs) can be assembled using a recombinant baculovirus (rBV) expression system and such VLPs induce specific humoral and cellular immune responses in mice after subcutaneous injection. Here, we investigated mucosal immune responses to SARS-CoV VLPs in a mouse model. Mice were immunized in parallel, intraperitoneally or intranasally, with VLPs alone or with VLPs plus cytosine-phosphate-guanosine (CpG). Immune responses, including the production of SARS-CoV-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) and secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), were determined in mucosal secretions and tissues. Both immunizations induced SARS-CoV-specific IgG, although the levels of IgG in groups immunized via the intraperitoneal (i.p.) route were higher. sIgA was detected in saliva in groups immunized intranasally but not in groups immunized intraperitoneally. CpG had an adjuvant effect on IgA production in genital tract washes when administered intranasally but only affected IgA production in faeces samples when administered intraperitoneally. In addition, IgA was also detected in mucosal tissues from the lung and intestine, while CpG induced an increased level of IgA in the intestine. Most importantly, neutralization antibodies were detected in sera after i.p. and intranasal (i.n.) immunizations. Secretions in genital tract washes from the i.n. group also showed neutralization activity. Furthermore, VLPs that were administered intraperitoneally elicited cellular immune responses as demonstrated by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay analyses. In summary, our study indicates that mucosal immunization with rBV SARS-CoV VLPs represent an effective means for eliciting protective systemic and mucosal immune responses against SARS-CoV, providing important information for vaccine design.

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