Intranasal administration of an inactivated Yersinia pestis vaccine with interleukin-12 generates protective immunity against pneumonic plague

Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2011 Nov;18(11):1925-35. doi: 10.1128/CVI.05117-11. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


Inhalation of Yersinia pestis causes pneumonic plague, which rapidly progresses to death. A previously licensed killed whole-cell vaccine is presently unavailable due to its reactogenicity and inconclusive evidence of efficacy. The present study now shows that vaccination intranasally (i.n.) with inactivated Y. pestis CO92 (iYp) adjuvanted with interleukin-12 (IL-12) followed by an i.n. challenge with a lethal dose of Y. pestis CO92 prevented bacterial colonization and protected 100% of mice from pneumonic plague. Survival of the vaccinated mice correlated with levels of systemic and lung antibodies, reduced pulmonary pathology and proinflammatory cytokines, and the presence of lung lymphoid cell aggregates. Protection against pneumonic plague was partially dependent upon Fc receptors and could be transferred to naïve mice with immune mouse serum. On the other hand, protection was not dependent upon complement, and following vaccination, depletion of CD4 and/or CD8 T cells before challenge did not affect survival. In summary, the results demonstrate the safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy of i.n. administered iYp plus IL-12 in a mouse model of pneumonic plague.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Blood / immunology
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Interleukin-12 / administration & dosage*
  • Lung / chemistry
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Plague / immunology
  • Plague / mortality
  • Plague / prevention & control*
  • Plague Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Plague Vaccine / immunology*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / immunology
  • Yersinia pestis / immunology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Cytokines
  • Plague Vaccine
  • Vaccines, Inactivated
  • Interleukin-12