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Vaccine. 2000 Jan 6;18(11-12):1110-7.

Liposome encapsulation of a soluble recombinant fragment of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) G protein enhances immune protection and reduces lung eosinophilia associated with virus challenge.

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Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young children and infants. Previous animal studies have shown that immunizing intramuscularly or intraperitoneally with the RSV G protein has elicited protective as well as harmful immune responses upon RSV challenge. In an RSV immunization strategy designed to target the respiratory tract directly (the site of RSV replication), we immunized BALB/c mice intranasally with a liposome-encapsulated, prokaryotically expressed thioredoxin fusion protein consisting of amino acids 128-229 of the RSV G protein (Trx-G(128-229)). Upon intranasal challenge with RSV, a 100 to 500-fold reduction in lung RSV replication was observed in mice immunized with liposome-encapsulated Trx-G(128-229) compared to a sham-immunized control group. Analysis of bronchoalveolar lavage fluids revealed an influx of eosinophils (18% of total cells) in mice immunized with Trx-G(128-229) alone. Such eosinophilic infiltration was diminished (to 4.5% of total cells), however, in mice immunized with liposome-encapsulated Trx-G(128-229). Histological analysis of lung tissue revealed an accumulation of cells around the bronchioles and vessels in mice immunized with Trx-G(128-229) alone followed by RSV challenge which was not increased further in mice immunized with liposome-encapsulated Trx-G(128-229). These results show that intranasal immunization of BALB/c mice with Trx-G(128-229), when encapsulated in liposomes, can reduce the level of RSV replication in the lung as well as specifically reduce the degree of eosinophilic infiltration compared to mice immunized with Trx-G(128-229) alone. This demonstrates the potential of liposomes and particular recombinant fragments of the RSV G protein as an effective combination in RSV vaccine studies.

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