The generation of CD8+ T-cell population specific for vaccinia virus epitope involved in the antiviral protection against ectromelia virus challenge

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Eradication of smallpox has led to cessation of vaccination programs. This has rendered the human population increasingly susceptible not only to variola virus infection but also to infections with other representatives of Poxviridae family that cause zoonotic variola-like diseases. Thus, new approaches for designing improved vaccine against smallpox are required. Discovering that orthopoxviruses, e.g. variola virus, vaccinia virus, ectromelia virus, share common immunodominant antigen, may result in the development of such a vaccine. In our study, the generation of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in mice during the acute and memory phase of the immune response was induced using the vaccinia virus immunodominant TSYKFESV epitope and CpG oligodeoxynucleotides as adjuvants. The role of the generated TSYKFESV-specific CD8+ T cells was evaluated in mice during ectromelia virus infection using systemic and mucosal model. Moreover, the involvement of dendritic cells subsets in the adaptive immune response stimulation was assessed. Our results indicate that the TSYKFESV epitope/TLR9 agonist approach, delivered systemically or mucosally, generated strong CD8+ T-cell response when measured 10 days after immunization. Furthermore, the TSYKFESV-specific cell population remained functionally active 2 months post-immunization, and gave cross-protection in virally challenged mice, even though the numbers of detectable antigen-specific T cells decreased.

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