Effective protection of mice against Shigella flexneri with a new self-adjuvant multicomponent vaccine
Purpose. The aim of this study was to develop an immunogenic protective product against Shigella flexneri by employing a simple and safe heat treatment-based strategy. Methodology. The physicochemical characteristics of naturally produced (OMV) and heat-induced (HT) outer-membrane vesicles from S. flexneri were examined, including a comparison of the protein content of the products. Toxicological and biodistribution studies, and a preliminary experiment to examine the protective effectiveness of HT in a murine model of S. flexneri infection, were also included. Results. This method simultaneously achieves complete bacterial inactivation and the production of the HT vaccine product, leading to a safe working process. The obtained HT complex presented a similar morphology (electron microscopy) and chemical composition to the classical OMV, although it was enriched in some immunogens, such as lipoproteins, OmpA or OmpC, among others. The HT formulation was not toxic and biodistribution studies performed in mice demonstrated that the vaccine product remained in the small intestine after nasal administration. Finally, a single dose of HT administered nasally was able to protect mice against S. flexneri 2a. Conclusion. The convenient and safe manufacturing process, and the preliminary biological evaluation, support the use of the self-adjuvanted HT complex as a new vaccine candidate to face shigellosis. Further development is required, such as additional immune analyses, to evaluate whether this new subunit vaccine can be useful in achieving full protection against Shigella.