Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is an emerging pathogen that causes severe respiratory illness. Whole UV-inactivated SARS-CoV (UV-V), bearing multiple epitopes and proteins, is a candidate vaccine against this virus. However, whole inactivated SARS vaccine that includes nucleocapsid protein is reported to induce eosinophilic infiltration in mouse lungs after challenge with live SARS-CoV. In this study, an ability of Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists to reduce the side effects of UV-V vaccination in a 6-month-old adult BALB/c mouse model was investigated, using the mouse-passaged Frankfurt 1 isolate of SARS-CoV. Immunization of adult mice with UV-V, with or without alum, resulted in partial protection from lethal doses of SARS-CoV challenge, but extensive eosinophil infiltration in the lungs was observed. In contrast, TLR agonists added to UV-V vaccine, including lipopolysaccharide, poly(U), and poly(I·C) (UV-V+TLR), strikingly reduced excess eosinophilic infiltration in the lungs and induced lower levels of interleukin-4 and -13 and eotaxin in the lungs than UV-V-immunization alone. Additionally, microarray analysis showed that genes associated with chemotaxis, eosinophil migration, eosinophilia, and cell movement and the polarization of Th2 cells were upregulated in UV-V-immunized but not in UV-V+TLR-immunized mice. In particular, CD11b(+) cells in the lungs of UV-V-immunized mice showed the upregulation of genes associated with the induction of eosinophils after challenge. These findings suggest that vaccine-induced eosinophil immunopathology in the lungs upon SARS-CoV infection could be avoided by the TLR agonist adjuvants.
Importance: Inactivated whole severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) vaccines induce neutralizing antibodies in mouse models; however, they also cause increased eosinophilic immunopathology in the lungs upon SARS-CoV challenge. In this study, the ability of adjuvant Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists to reduce the side effects of UV-inactivated SARS-CoV vaccination in a BALB/c mouse model was tested, using the mouse-passaged Frankfurt 1 isolate of SARS-CoV. We found that TLR stimulation reduced the high level of eosinophilic infiltration that occurred in the lungs of mice immunized with UV-inactivated SARS-CoV. Microarray analysis revealed that genes associated with chemotaxis, eosinophil migration, eosinophilia, and cell movement and the polarization of Th2 cells were upregulated in UV-inactivated SARS-CoV-immunized mice. This study may be helpful for elucidating the pathogenesis underlying eosinophilic infiltration resulting from immunization with inactivated vaccine.
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