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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

In vivo trafficking and immunostimulatory potential of an intranasally-administered primary dendritic cell-based vaccine

Prachi Vilekar1, Vibhudutta Awasthi2, Pallavi Lagisetty2, Catherine King1, Nathan Shankar1 and Shanjana Awasthi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, 1110 N. Stonewall Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK-73117, USA

2 Small Animal Imaging Facility, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, 1110 N. Stonewall Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK-73117, USA

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BMC Immunology 2010, 11:60  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-11-60

Published: 10 December 2010

Abstract

Background

Coccidioidomycosis or Valley fever is caused by a highly virulent fungal pathogen: Coccidioides posadasii or immitis. Vaccine development against Coccidioides is of contemporary interest because a large number of relapses and clinical failures are reported with antifungal agents. An efficient Th1 response engenders protection. Thus, we have focused on developing a dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccine for coccidioidomycosis. In this study, we investigated the immunostimulatory characteristics of an intranasal primary DC-vaccine in BALB/c mouse strain that is most susceptible to coccidioidomycosis. The DCs were transfected nonvirally with Coccidioides-Ag2/PRA-cDNA. Expression of DC-markers, Ag2/PRA and cytokines were studied by flow cytometry, dot-immunoblotting and cytometric bead array methods, respectively. The T cell activation was studied by assessing the upregulation of activation markers in a DC-T cell co-culture assay. For trafficking, the DCs were co-transfected with a plasmid DNA encoding HSV1 thymidine kinase (TK) and administered intranasally into syngeneic mice. The trafficking and homing of TK-expressing DCs were monitored with positron emission tomography (PET) using 18F-FIAU probe. Based on the PET-probe accumulation in vaccinated mice, selected tissues were studied for antigen-specific response and T cell phenotypes using ELISPOT and flow cytometry, respectively.

Results

We found that the primary DCs transfected with Coccidioides-Ag2/PRA-cDNA were of immature immunophenotype, expressed Ag2/PRA and activated naïve T cells. In PET images and subsequent biodistribution, intranasally-administered DCs were found to migrate in blood, lung and thymus; lymphocytes showed generation of T effector memory cell population (TEM) and IFN-γ release.

Conclusions

In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the intranasally-administered primary DC vaccine is capable of inducing Ag2/PRA-specific T cell response. Unique approaches utilized in our study represent an attractive and novel means of producing and evaluating an autologous DC-based vaccine.