Oral immunogenicity of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli outer membrane vesicles encapsulated into zein nanoparticles coated with a Gantrez(R) AN-mannosamine polymer conjugate
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) represents a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the human population. In particular, ETEC infections affect children under the age of five from low-middle income countries. However, there is no licensed vaccine against this pathogen. ETEC vaccine development is challenging since this pathotype expresses a wide variety of antigenically diverse virulence factors whose genes can be modified due to ETEC genetic plasticity. To overcome this challenge, we propose the use of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) isolated from two ETEC clinical strains. In these OMVs, proteomic studies revealed the presence of important immunogens, such as heat-labile toxin, colonization factors, adhesins and mucinases. Furthermore, these vesicles proved to be immunogenic after subcutaneous administration in BALB/c mice. Since ETEC is an enteropathogen, it is necessary to induce both systemic and mucosal immunity. For this purpose, the vesicles, free or encapsulated in zein nanoparticles coated with a Gantrez(R)-mannosamine conjugate, were administered orally. Biodistribution studies showed that the encapsulation of OMVs delayed the transit through the gut. These results were confirmed by in vivo study, in which OMV encapsulation resulted in higher levels of specific antibodies IgG2a. Further studies are needed to evaluate the protection efficacy of this vaccine approach.