Plasmid DNA is a promising vaccine platform that together with electroporation can elicit significant systemic Ab responses; however, immunity at mucosal sites remains low. In this study, we sought to program T and B cells to home to the gastrointestinal and vaginal mucosae using genetic chemokine adjuvants and assessed their impact on immune homeostasis in various distinct immune compartments. BALB/c mice were immunized i.m. with plasmid DNA encoding a model Ag HIV-1 Env gp140 and selected chemokines/cytokine and boosted intravaginally with gp140 recombinant protein. Isolated splenocytes, intestinal lymphocytes, and genital lymphocytes as well as serum and intestinal luminal contents were assessed for Ag-specific reactivity. In addition, flow cytometric analysis was performed to determine the impact on immune homeostasis at these sites. Different molecular chemokine/cytokine adjuvants effected significant alterations to the recruitment of B and T cells to the spleen, vaginal and intestinal mucosae, for example CCL25 enhanced splenic and vaginal Ag-specific T cell responses whereas CCL28 increased the levels of specific T cells only in the vaginal mucosa. The levels of Ab could be modulated in the systemic circulation, as well as the vaginal vault and intestinal lumen, with CCL20 playing a central role. Our data demonstrate that the CCL20, CCL25, and CCL28 genetic chemokine adjuvants enhance the vaccine Ag-specific humoral and cellular responses and induce homing to the intestinal and female genital mucosae.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors.