Pneumocystis pneumonia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients, particularly those infected with HIV. In this study, we evaluated the potential of oral immunization with live Pneumocystis to elicit protection against respiratory infection with Pneumocystis murina. C57BL/6 mice vaccinated with live P. murina using a prime-boost vaccination strategy were protected from a subsequent lung challenge with P. murina at 2, 7, 14, and 28 d postinfection even after CD4(+) T cell depletion. Specifically, vaccinated immunocompetent mice had significantly faster clearance than unvaccinated immunocompetent mice and unvaccinated CD4-depleted mice remained persistently infected with P. murina. Vaccination also increased numbers of CD4(+) T cells, CD8(+) T cells, CD19(+) B cells, and CD11b(+) macrophages in the lungs following respiratory infection. In addition, levels of lung, serum, and fecal P. murina-specific IgG and IgA were increased in vaccinated animals. Furthermore, administration of serum from vaccinated mice significantly reduced Pneumocystis lung burden in infected animals compared with control serum. We also found that the diversity of the intestinal microbial community was altered by oral immunization with P. murina. To our knowledge, our data demonstrate for the first time that an oral vaccination strategy prevents Pneumocystis infection.
Copyright © 2016 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.