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J Immunol. 2008 Jan 15;180(2):948-56.

Intranasal vaccination of recombinant adeno-associated virus encoding receptor-binding domain of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) spike protein induces strong mucosal immune responses and provides long-term protection against SARS-CoV infection.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.


We have previously reported that a subunit protein vaccine based on the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) spike protein and a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-based RBD (RBD-rAAV) vaccine could induce highly potent neutralizing Ab responses in immunized animals. In this study, systemic, mucosal, and cellular immune responses and long-term protective immunity induced by RBD-rAAV were further characterized in a BALB/c mouse model, with comparison of the i.m. and intranasal (i.n.) routes of administration. Our results demonstrated that: 1) the i.n. vaccination induced a systemic humoral immune response of comparable strength and shorter duration than the i.m. vaccination, but the local humoral immune response was much stronger; 2) the i.n. vaccination elicited stronger systemic and local specific cytotoxic T cell responses than the i.m. vaccination, as evidenced by higher prevalence of IL-2 and/or IFN-gamma-producing CD3+/CD8+ T cells in both lungs and spleen; 3) the i.n. vaccination induced similar protection as the i.m. vaccination against SARS-CoV challenge in mice; 4) higher titers of mucosal IgA and serum-neutralizing Ab were associated with lower viral load and less pulmonary pathological damage, while no Ab-mediated disease enhancement effect was observed; and 5) the vaccination could provide long-term protection against SARS-CoV infection. Taken together, our findings suggest that RBD-rAAV can be further developed into a vaccine candidate for prevention of SARS and that i.n. vaccination may be the preferred route of administration due to its ability to induce SARS-CoV-specific systemic and mucosal immune responses and its better safety profile.

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