Pulmonary Application of Novel Antigen-Loaded Chitosan Nano-Particles Co-Administered with the Mucosal Adjuvant C-Di-AMP Resulted in Enhanced Immune Stimulation and Dose Sparing Capacity

The most successful medical intervention for preventing infectious diseases is still vaccination. This effective strategy has resulted in decreased mortality and extended life expectancy. However, there is still a critical need for novel vaccination strategies and vaccines. Antigen cargo delivery by nanoparticle-based carriers could promote superior protection against constantly emerging viruses and subsequent diseases. This should be sustained by the induction of vigorous cellular and humoral immunity, capable of acting both at the systemic and mucosal levels. Induction of antigen-specific responses at the portal of entry of pathogens is considered an important scientific challenge. Chitosan, which is widely regarded as a biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic material for functionalized nanocarriers, as well as having adjuvant activity, enables antigen administration via less-invasive mucosal routes such as sublingual or pulmonic application route. In this proof of principle study, we evaluate the efficacy of chitosan nanocarriers loaded with the model antigen Ovalbumin (OVA) co-administrated with the STING agonist bis-(3',5')-cyclic dimeric adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) given by pulmonary route. Here, BALB/c mice were immunized with four doses of the formulation that stimulates enhanced antigen-specific IgG titers in sera. In addition, this vaccine formulation also promotes a strong Th1/Th17 response characterized by high secretion of IFN-γ, IL-2 and IL-17, as well as induction of CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, the novel formulation exhibited strong dose-sparing capacity, enabling a 90% reduction of the antigen concentration. Altogether, our results suggest that chitosan nanocarriers, in combination with the mucosal adjuvant c-di-AMP, are a promising technology platform for the development of innovative mucosal vaccines against respiratory pathogens (e.g., Influenza or RSV) or for therapeutic vaccines.


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