Background: Despite newborns being at increased risk of serious influenza infection, influenza vaccines are currently not recommended for use in infants under 6 months of age. We therefore sought to evaluate the protective efficacy in mice of an M2-based influenza vaccine (CapM2e) formulated with Advax-SM adjuvant. Vaccine protection was assessed via both passive maternal immunization and direct neonatal immunization.
Methods: For maternal transfer studies, female mice were immunized 1 week before and after mating. Blood was collected from both mother and offspring during weaning and pups were challenged when they reached 3 weeks of age with lethal doses of H1N1 and homologous reassortment influenza strain H3N2 with conserved M2. For direct immunization studies, newborns were immunized at 1 and 3 weeks of age and blood was collected prior to challenge at 4 weeks of age.
Results: Maternal immunization with CapM2e + Advax-SM vaccine induced high maternal M2e antibody levels that were passively transferred to their offspring and provided them with protection against both H1N1 and H3N2 influenza strains when challenged at 3 weeks of age. When used for direct immunization of neonatal mice, CapM2e + Advax-SM vaccine similarly induced high serum M2e antibody levels and protected against H1N1 and H3N2 influenza challenges with protection associated with inhibition of virus replication with a significant reduction in lung virus load in immunized pups.
Conclusion: CapM2e + Advax-SM vaccine could be useful for protecting newborns against diverse influenza A strains, with opportunities to achieve protection by passive maternal immunization or active neonatal immunization. This data supports further development of this promising M2e-based vaccine candidate.
Keywords: Adjuvant; Advax; Influenza; Maternal; Neonatal; Vaccine.
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