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Mol Immunol. 2000 Jun;37(9):537-44.

Transcutaneous immunization induces mucosal and systemic immunity: a potent method for targeting immunity to the female reproductive tract.

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Discipline of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, 2308 NSW, Australia.


Female BALB/c mice were immunized with tetanus toxoid (TT) admixed with cholera toxin by direct application to shaved skin (Transcutaneous immunization, TCI). Tetanus toxoid-specific IgG and IgA in serum, saliva, vaginal lavage and fecal pellets were assayed by ELISA. Tetanus toxoid specific antibody-secreting cell (ASC) numbers were also determined by immunohistochemistry in sections of vagina, uterus, salivary gland and small intestine of immunized mice. TCI elicited significant levels of TT-specific IgG in serum, saliva and vaginal lavage, with the greatest increases over background seen in saliva (80-400 fold) and vaginal lavage (2-87 fold). TCI induced only modest levels of IgA in any of the samples tested (range 2-7 fold increase). In the absence of cholera toxin, application of TT alone did not result in detectable TT-specific antibodies in mucosal secretions. ASCs were found in all tissues following TCI. Cells were most frequent in uterus and vaginal tissues with ASC numbers less frequent in small intestine and salivary gland. This suggests that local production, rather than transudation from serum, is a major contributor of antibody in reproductive tract secretions. Further studies focussed on the role of sex hormones and immune induction following TCI. Animals immunized at the stage of oestrus cycle at which estrogen is abundant (Estrus), showed significantly lower levels of TT-specific IgG in vaginal lavage samples. Collectively, these data confirm the findings of Glenn and colleagues (1998), who showed TCI using cholera toxin can elicit high levels of serum IgG to both the toxin and co-administered antigen and further demonstrates that this route of immunization is particularly effective at eliciting humoral immunity in saliva and in the female reproductive tract.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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