Oral Chlamydia vaccination induces transmucosal protection in the airway
Abstract Although Chlamydia has been frequently detected in the gastrointestinal tracts of both humans and animals, it is not associated with any gastrointestinal pathology. We have recently shown that gastrointestinal Chlamydiamuridarum is not only non-pathogenic but also induces protective immunity in the genital tract. We now report that the transmucosal immunity induced by a single oral immunization with C.muridarum protected the mouse airway from a subsequent challenge infection. The oral immunization significantly reduced chlamydial burden in the airway as early as day 3 after intranasal challenge. As a result, the airway chlamydial spreading to extra-airway tissues was completely prevented on day 3 and significantly reduced on day 9. The immunized mice were protected from any significant systemic toxicity caused by the intranasal challenge since there was no significant bodyweight drop in the immunized mice. This robust protection correlated well with Chlamydia -specific antibodies that recognize chlamydial organism surface antigens and T cell responses that are dominated with a Th1 phenotype. The immunized mice developed high ratios of IgG2b/c over IgG1 levels and IFNγ-producing over IL-5- or IL-13-producing lymphocytes. Thus, we have demonstrated that oral vaccination with C. muridarum can induce Th1-dominant transmucosal immunity in the airway. Together with previous studies, we propose that non-pathogenic colonization of Chlamydia in the gastrointestinal tract be explored as an oral delivery system for inducing protection against infections and pathologies in extra-gastrointestinal tissues.
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