Protective immunity against genital pathogens causing chronic infections, such as herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) or human immunodeficiency virus, requires the induction of cell-mediated immune responses locally in the genital tract. Intranasal immunization with a thymidine kinase-deficient (TK-) mutant of HSV-2 effectively induces HSV-2-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-secreting memory T cell production and protective immunity against intravaginal challenge with wild-type HSV-2. However, the precise mechanism by which intranasal immunization induces protective immunity in the distant genital mucosa more effectively than does systemic immunization is unknown. Here, we showed that intranasal immunization with live HSV-2 TK- induced the production of effector T cells and their migration to, and retention in, the vaginal mucosa, whereas systemic vaccination barely established a local effector T cell pool, even when it induced the production of circulating memory T cells in the systemic compartment. The long-lasting HSV-2-specific local effector T cells induced by intranasal vaccination provided superior protection against intravaginal wild-type HSV-2 challenge by starting viral clearance at the entry site earlier than with intraperitoneal immunization. Intranasal immunization is an effective strategy for eliciting high levels of cell-mediated protection of the genital tract by providing long-lasting antigen (Ag)-specific local effector T cells without introducing topical infection or inflammation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science