Endothelial dysfunction and vascular leak, pathogenic hallmarks of severe dengue disease, are directly triggered by dengue virus (DENV) nonstructural protein 1 (NS1). Previous studies have shown that immunization with NS1, as well as passive transfer of NS1-immune serum or anti-NS1 mAb, prevent NS1-mediated lethality in vivo. In this study, we evaluated the immunogenicity and protective capacity of recombinant DENV NS1 administered with cyclic dinucleotides (CDNs), potent activators of innate immune pathways and highly immunogenic adjuvants. Using both wild-type C57BL/6 mice and IFN-α/β receptor-deficient mice, we show that NS1-CDN immunizations elicit serotype-specific and cross-reactive Ab and T cell responses. Furthermore, NS1-CDN vaccinations conferred significant homotypic and heterotypic protection from DENV2-induced morbidity and mortality. In addition, we demonstrate that high anti-NS1 Ab titers are associated with protection, supporting the role of humoral responses against DENV NS1 as correlates of protection. These findings highlight the potential of CDN-based adjuvants for inducing Ab and T cell responses and validate NS1 as an important candidate for dengue vaccine development.
Copyright © 2019 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.