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J Virol. 2003 Jan;77(2):953-62.

A protective role of locally administered immunostimulatory CpG oligodeoxynucleotide in a mouse model of genital herpes infection.

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Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Göteborg University Vaccine Research Institute, Göteborg University, Sweden.


Unmethylated CpG dinucleotides in bacterial DNA or synthetic oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) are known as potent activators of the immune system and inducers of several Th1-associated immunomodulatory cytokines. We therefore investigated whether such a CpG-containing ODN (CpG ODN) given mucosally in the female genital tract could enhance innate immunity and protect against genital herpes infection. Groups of C57BL/6 mice were treated intravaginally with either CpG ODN or a non-CpG ODN control in the absence of any antigen either 2 days before or 4 h after an intravaginal challenge with a normally lethal dose of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Mice treated with CpG ODN exhibited significantly decreased titers of HSV-2 in their vaginal fluids compared with non-CpG ODN-treated mice. Furthermore, CpG ODN pretreatment significantly protected against development of disease and death compared to non-CpG ODN pretreatment. Most strikingly, CpG ODN conferred protection against disease and death even when given after the viral challenge. The CpG ODN-induced protection was associated with a rapid production of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), interleukin-12 (IL-12), IL-18, and RANTES in the genital tract mucosa following CpG ODN treatment. The observed protection appeared to be dependent on IFN-gamma, IL-12, IL-18, and T cells, as CpG ODN pretreatment did not confer any significant protection in mice deficient in IFN-gamma, IL-12, IL-18, or T cells. Further, a complete protective immunity to reinfection was elicited in CpG ODN-treated, HSV-2-challenged mice, suggesting a role for mucosally administered CpG ODN in inducing the development of an acquired immune response in addition to its potent stimulation of innate immunity.

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