Wei Zhang, Xiaolin Song, Lina Zhai, Jianshu Guo, Xinying Zheng, Lili Zhang, Meng Lv, Lingfei Hu, Dongsheng Zhou, Xiaolu Xiong and Wenhui Yang
Pneumonic plague, caused by Yersinia pestis, is an infectious disease with high mortality rates unless treated early with antibiotics. Currently, no FDA-approved vaccine against plague is available for human use. The capsular antigen F1, the low-calcium-response V antigen (LcrV), and the recombinant fusion protein (rF1-LcrV) of Y. pestis are leading subunit vaccine candidates under intense investigation; however, the inability of recombinant antigens to provide complete protection against pneumonic plague in animal models remains a significant concern. In this study, we compared immunoprotection against pneumonic plague provided by rF1, rV10 (a truncation of LcrV), and rF1-V10, and vaccinations delivered via aerosolized intratracheal (i.t.) inoculation or subcutaneous (s.c.) injection. We further considered three vaccine formulations: conventional liquid, dry powder produced by spray freeze drying, or dry powder reconstituted in PBS. The main findings are: (i) rF1-V10 immunization with any formulation via i.t. or s.c. routes conferred 100% protection against Y. pestis i.t. infection; (ii) rF1 or rV10 immunization using i.t. delivery provided significantly stronger protection than rF1 or rV10 immunization via s.c. delivery; and (iii) powder formulations of subunit vaccines induced immune responses and provided protection equivalent to those elicited by unprocessed liquid formulations of vaccines. Our data indicate that immunization with a powder formulation of rF1-V10 vaccines via an i.t. route may be a promising vaccination strategy for providing protective immunity against pneumonic plague.
Yersinia pestis, pneumonic plague, subunit vaccine, rF1-V10, dry powder formulation, aerosolized intratracheal inoculation, mucosal immune response