Immunization with Single Oral Dose of Alginate-Encapsulated BCG Elicits Effective and Long-Lasting Mucosal Immune Responses

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Effective vaccination against pathogens, which enter the body through mucosal surfaces, requires the induction of both mucosal and systemic immune responses. Here, mucosal as well as systemic immune responses in the lung and spleen of BALB/c mice which were orally vaccinated with a single dose of alginate-encapsulated bacille Calmette–Guerin (BCG) were evaluated. Twenty weeks after immunization, the vaccinated mice were challenged intranasally with BCG. Twelve weeks after immunization and 5 weeks after challenge, the immune responses were evaluated. Moreover, immune responses were compared with those of mice that were vaccinated with free BCG by subcutaneous (sc) and oral routes. Twelve weeks after the immunization, serum IgG level was higher in the sc-immunized mice, while serum IgA level was higher in the orally immunized mice with encapsulated BCG. Significant productions of both IgG and IgA were only detected in lungs of mice orally immunized with encapsulated BCG. Proliferative and delayed-type hypersensitivity responses and IFN-γ production were significantly higher in mice immunized orally with encapsulated BCG, compared to mice immunized orally with free BCG. After challenge, the levels of IFN-γ were comparable between sc-immunized mice with free BCG and orally immunized with encapsulated BCG; however, significantly less IL-4 was detected in mice which had received encapsulated BCG via oral route. Moreover, significant control of the bacilli growth in the lung of the immunized mice after intranasal challenge with BCG was documented in mice vaccinated with encapsulated BCG. These results suggest that oral immunization with alginate-encapsulated BCG is an effective mean of inducing mucosal and systemic specific immune responses.

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