Intravaginal immunization with viral subunit protein plus CpG oligodeoxynucleotides induces protective immunity against HSV-2
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Although the genital tract has been considered a poor inductive site for immunization with non-replicating antigens, genital immunization may be important for protection against sexually transmitted infections. Recently, we and others showed that CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) serve as potent adjuvants for mucosal immunization. The purpose of this study was to determine whether intravaginal (IVAG) immunization with recombinant glycoprotein B (rgB) of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) plus CpG ODN can induce specific immunity and protect against genital HSV-2 challenge. C57BL/6 mice were immunized IVAG with rgB plus CpG ODN, rgB plus non-CpG ODN, or rgB alone and challenged IVAG with HSV-2. Mice immunized with rgB + CpG had higher levels of anti-gB IgA and IgG in the vaginal washes and serum compared to mice immunized with rgB alone. Mice immunized with rgB + CpG also had the highest levels of gB-specific IgG in the nasal washes, however no specific IgA was detected in the nasal washes of any group. Mice immunized IVAG with rgB + CpG showed higher survival and lower pathology scores following genital HSV-2 challenge than mice immunized with rgB + non-CpG ODN or rgB alone. Additionally, vaginal viral titers were lower in the rgB + CpG group after infection. These results clearly show that the genital tract is capable of generating a protective immune response after local intravaginal immunization and that a non-replicating antigen is able to induce such a response when administered with an appropriate adjuvant.
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