Vaccination against chlamydial genital tract infection after immunization with dendritic cells pulsed ex vivo with nonviable Chlamydiae

H Su, R Messer, W Whitmire, E Fischer, J C Portis, H D Caldwell
Journal of Experimental Medicine 1998 September 7, 188 (5): 809-18
Chlamydia trachomatis, an obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen of mucosal surfaces, is a major cause of preventable blindness and sexually transmitted diseases for which vaccines are badly needed. Despite considerable effort, antichlamydial vaccines have proven to be elusive using conventional immunization strategies. We report the use of murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DC) pulsed ex vivo with killed chlamydiae as a novel approach to vaccination against chlamydial infection. Our results show that DC efficiently phagocytose chlamydiae, secrete IL-12 p40, and present chlamydial antigen(s) to infection sensitized CD4(+) T cells. Mice immunized intravenously with chlamydial-pulsed DC produce protective immunity against chlamydial infection of the female genital tract equal to that obtained after infection with live organisms. Immunized mice shed approximately 3 logs fewer infectious chlamydiae and are protected from genital tract inflammatory and obstructive disease. Protective immunity is correlated with a chlamydial-specific Th1-biased response that closely mimics the immune response produced after chlamydial infection. Thus, ex vivo antigen-pulsed DC represent a powerful tool for the study of protective immunity to chlamydial mucosal infection and for the identification of chlamydial protective antigens through reconstitution experiments. Moreover, these findings might impact the design of vaccine strategies against other medically important sexually transmitted diseases for which vaccines are sought but which have proven difficult to develop.

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