GM-CSF Transgene-Based Adjuvant Allows the Establishment of Protective Mucosal Immunity Following Vaccination with Inactivated Chlamydia trachomatis
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Cellular and humoral immune responses induced following murine Chlamydia trachomatis infection confer almost sterile protection against homologous reinfection. On the other hand, immunization with inactivated organism induces little protective immunity in this model system. The underlying mechanism(s) that determines such divergent outcome remains unclear, but elucidating the mechanism will probably be important for chlamydial vaccine development. One of the distinct differences between the two forms of immunization is that chlamydia replication in epithelial cells causes the secretion of a variety of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, such as GM-CSF, that may mobilize and mature dendritic cells and thereby enhance the induction of protective immunity. Using a murine model of C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis lung infection and intrapulmonary adenoviral GM-CSF transfection, we demonstrate that the expression of GM-CSF in the airway compartment significantly enhanced systemic Th1 cellular and local IgA immune responses following immunization with inactivated organisms. Importantly, immunized mice had significantly reduced growth of chlamydia and exhibited less severe pulmonary inflammation following challenge infection. The site of GM-CSF transfection proved important, since mice immunized with inactivated organisms after GM-CSF gene transfer by the i.p. route exhibited little protection against pulmonary challenge, although i.p. immunization generated significant levels of systemic Th1 immune responses. The obvious difference between i.p. and intrapulmonary immunization was the absence of lung IgA responses following i.p. vaccination. In aggregate, the findings demonstrate that the local cytokine environment is critical to the induction of protective immunity following chlamydial vaccination and that GM-CSF may be a useful adjuvant for a chlamydial vaccine.
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