Background: Noroviruses (NoVs) are a major cause of childhood gastroenteritis and foodborne diseases worldwide. Lack of appropriate animal models or cell-based culture systems makes the development and evaluation of NoV-specific vaccines a daunting task. VP1 is the major capsid protein of the NoVs that acts as a binding motif to human histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) through its protruding 2 (P2) domain and can serve as a protective antigen candidate for vaccine development. Methods: Recombinantly produced NoV specific P domain (Pd) vaccine was inoculated into groups of mice either alone or in conjugation with mucosal adjuvant FlaB, the flagellar protein from Vibrio vulnificus. Antigen specific humoral and cell mediated immune responses were assessed by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS). A comparative analysis of various routes of vaccination viz. intranasal, sublingual and subcutaneous, was also done. Results: In this study, we show that a recombinant Pd-vaccine administered through intranasal route induced a robust TH2-dependent humoral immune response and that the combination of vaccine with FlaB significantly enhanced the antibody response. Interestingly, FlaB induced a mixed TH1/TH2 type of immune response with a significant induction of IgG1 as well as IgG2a antibodies. FlaB also induced strong IgA responses in serum and feces. FlaB mediated antibody responses were toll like receptor 5 (TLR5) dependent, since the FlaB adjuvanticity was lost in TLR5-/- mice. Further, though the Pd-vaccine by itself failed to induce a cell mediated immune response, the Pd-FlaB combination stimulated a robust CD4+IFNγ+ and CD8+IFNγ+ T cell response in spleen and mesenteric lymph nodes. We also compared the adjuvant effects of FlaB with that of alum and complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA). We found that subcutaneously inoculated FlaB induced more significant levels of IgG and IgA in both serum and feces compared to alum or CFA in respective samples. Conclusion: We validate the use of TLR5 agonist as a strong mucosal adjuvant that would facilitate the development of NoV specific vaccines for humans and veterinary use. This study also highlights the importance of route of immunization in inducing the appropriate immune responses in mucosal compartments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Korean Health Technology R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (No. A110983) and Chonnam National University Hospital Biomedical Research Institute (HCRI 14004‑1).
© 2016 The Author(s).