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Mucosal Immunol. 2017 Nov;10(6):1594-1608. doi: 10.1038/mi.2017.11. Epub 2017 Mar 1.

Experimental vaccine induces Th1-driven immune responses and resistance to Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection in a murine model.

Author information

TherapyX Inc., Buffalo, New York, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Center, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA.
Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.


Female mice were immunized intravaginally with gonococcal outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) plus microencapsulated interleukin-12 (IL-12), and challenged using an established model of genital infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Whereas sham-immunized and control animals cleared the infection in 10-13 days, those immunized with OMV plus IL-12 cleared infection with homologous gonococcal strains in 6-9 days. Significant protection was also seen after challenge with antigenically distinct strains of N. gonorrhoeae, and protective anamnestic immunity persisted for at least 6 months after immunization. Serum and vaginal immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgA antibodies were generated against antigens expressed by homologous and heterologous strains. Iliac lymph node CD4+ T cells secreted interferon-γ (IFNγ), but not IL-4, in response to immunization, and produced IL-17 in response to challenge regardless of immunization. Antigens recognized by immunized mouse serum included several shared between gonococcal strains, including two identified by immunoproteomics approaches as elongation factor-Tu (EF-Tu) and PotF3. Experiments with immunodeficient mice showed that protective immunity depended upon IFNγ and B cells, presumably to generate antibodies. The results demonstrated that immunity to gonococcal infection can be induced by immunization with a nonliving gonococcal antigen, and suggest that efforts to develop a human vaccine should focus on strategies to generate type 1 T helper cell (Th1)-driven immune responses in the genital tract.

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