Dendrimer-conjugated peptide vaccine enhances clearance ofChlamydia trachomatisgenital infection
Peptide-based vaccines have emerged in recent years as promising candidates in the prevention of infectious diseases. However, there are many challenges to maintaining in vivo peptide stability and enhancement of peptide immunogenicity to generate protective immunity which enhances clearance of infections. Here, a dendrimer-based carrier system is proposed for peptide-based vaccine delivery, and shows its anti-microbial feasibility in a mouse model of Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydiae are the most prevalent sexually transmitted bacteria worldwide, and also the causal agent of trachoma, the leading cause of preventable infectious blindness. In spite of the prevalence of this infectious agent and the many previous vaccine-related studies, there is no vaccine commercially available. The carrier system proposed consists of generation 4, hydroxyl-terminated, polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers (G4OH), to which a peptide mimic of a chlamydial glycolipid antigen—Peptide 4 (Pep4, AFPQFRSATLLL) was conjugated through an ester bond. The ester bond between G4OH and Pep4 is expected to break down mainly in the intracellular environment for antigen presentation. Pep4 conjugated to dendrimer induced Chlamydia-specific serum antibodies after subcutaneous immunizations. Further, this new vaccine formulation significantly protected immunized animals from vaginal challenge with infectious Chlamydia trachomatis, and it reduced infectious loads and tissue (genital tract) damage. Pep4 conjugated to G4OH or only mixed with peptide provided enhanced protection compared to Pep4 and adjuvant (i.e. alum), suggesting a potential adjuvant effect of the PAMAM dendrimer. Combined, these results demonstrate that hydroxyl-terminated PAMAM dendrimer is a promising polymeric nanocarrier platform for the delivery of peptide vaccines and this approach has potential to be expanded to other infectious intracellular bacteria and viruses of public health significance.