group leader: Prof. Guzman

Recent Submissions

  • Advanced strategies for development of vaccines against human bacterial pathogens.

    Sharma, Abhinay; Sanduja, Pooja; Anand, Aparna; Mahajan, Pooja; Guzman, Carlos A; Yadav, Puja; Awasthi, Amit; Hanski, Emanuel; Dua, Meenakshi; Johri, Atul Kumar; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-03-22)
    Infectious diseases are one of the main grounds of death and disabilities in human beings globally. Lack of effective treatment and immunization for many deadly infectious diseases and emerging drug resistance in pathogens underlines the need to either develop new vaccines or sufficiently improve the effectiveness of currently available drugs and vaccines. In this review, we discuss the application of advanced tools like bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics and associated techniques for a rational vaccine design.
  • Monte Carlo Simulation of SARS-CoV-2 Radiation-Induced Inactivation for Vaccine Development.

    Francis, Ziad; Incerti, Sebastien; Zein, Sara A; Lampe, Nathanael; Guzman, Carlos A; Durante, Marco; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Radiation Research Society, 2021-01-07)
    Immunization with an inactivated virus is one of the strategies currently being tested towards developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. One of the methods used to inactivate viruses is exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation to damage their nucleic acids. While gamma (γ) rays effectively induce lesions in the RNA, envelope proteins are also highly damaged in the process. This in turn may alter their antigenic properties, affecting their capacity to induce an adaptive immune response able to confer effective protection. Here, we modeled the effect of sparsely and densely ionizing radiation on SARS-CoV-2 using the Monte Carlo toolkit Geant4-DNA. With a realistic 3D target virus model, we calculated the expected number of lesions in the spike and membrane proteins, as well as in the viral RNA. Our findings showed that γ rays produced significant spike protein damage, but densely ionizing charged particles induced less membrane damage for the same level of RNA lesions, because a single ion traversal through the nuclear envelope was sufficient to inactivate the virus. We propose that accelerated charged particles produce inactivated viruses with little structural damage to envelope proteins, thereby representing a new and effective tool for developing vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and other enveloped viruses.
  • Self-Amplifying Pestivirus Replicon RNA Encoding Influenza Virus Nucleoprotein and Hemagglutinin Promote Humoral and Cellular Immune Responses in Pigs.

    Démoulins, Thomas; Ruggli, Nicolas; Gerber, Markus; Thomann-Harwood, Lisa J; Ebensen, Thomas; Schulze, Kai; Guzmán, Carlos A; McCullough, Kenneth C; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-01-28)
    Self-amplifying replicon RNA (RepRNA) promotes expansion of mRNA templates encoding genes of interest through their replicative nature, thus providing increased antigen payloads. RepRNA derived from the non-cytopathogenic classical swine fever virus (CSFV) targets monocytes and dendritic cells (DCs), potentially promoting prolonged antigen expression in the DCs, contrasting with cytopathogenic RepRNA. We engineered pestivirus RepRNA constructs encoding influenza virus H5N1 (A/chicken/Yamaguchi/7/2004) nucleoprotein (Rep-NP) or hemagglutinin (Rep-HA). The inherent RNase-sensitivity of RepRNA had to be circumvented to ensure efficient delivery to DCs for intracellular release and RepRNA translation; we have reported how only particular synthetic delivery vehicle formulations are appropriate. The question remained concerning RepRNA packaged in virus replicon particles (VRPs); we have now compared an efficient polyethylenimine (PEI)-based formulation (polyplex) with VRP-delivery as well as naked RepRNA co-administered with the potent bis-(3',5')-cyclic dimeric adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) adjuvant. All formulations contained a Rep-HA/Rep-NP mix, to assess the breadth of both humoral and cell-mediated defences against the influenza virus antigens. Assessment employed pigs for their close immunological relationship to humans, and as natural hosts for influenza virus. Animals receiving the VRPs, as well as PEI-delivered RepRNA, displayed strong humoral and cellular responses against both HA and NP, but with VRPs proving to be more efficacious. In contrast, naked RepRNA plus c-di-AMP could induce only low-level immune responses, in one out of five pigs. In conclusion, RepRNA encoding different influenza virus antigens are efficacious for inducing both humoral and cellular immune defences in pigs. Comparisons showed that packaging within VRP remains the most efficacious for delivery leading to induction of immune defences; however, this technology necessitates employment of expensive complementing cell cultures, and VRPs do not target human cells. Therefore, choosing the appropriate synthetic delivery vehicle still offers potential for rapid vaccine design, particularly in the context of the current coronavirus pandemic.
  • Cyclic Di-Adenosine Monophosphate: A Promising Adjuvant Candidate for the Development of Neonatal Vaccines.

    Lirussi, Darío; Weissmann, Sebastian Felix; Ebensen, Thomas; Nitsche-Gloy, Ursula; Franz, Heiko B G; Guzmán, Carlos A; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-01)
    Underdeveloped immunity during the neonatal age makes this period one of the most dangerous during the human lifespan, with infection-related mortality being one of the highest of all age groups. It is also discussed that vaccination during this time window may result in tolerance rather than in productive immunity, thus raising concerns about the overall vaccine-mediated protective efficacy. Cyclic di-nucleotides (CDN) are bacterial second messengers that are rapidly sensed by the immune system as a danger signal, allowing the utilization of these molecules as potent activators of the immune response. We have previously shown that cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate (CDA) is a potent and versatile adjuvant capable of promoting humoral and cellular immunity. We characterize here the cytokine profiles elicited by CDA in neonatal cord blood in comparison with other promising neonatal adjuvants, such as the imidazoquinoline resiquimod (R848), which is a synthetic dual TLR7 and TLR8 agonist. We observed superior activity of CDA in eliciting T helper 1 (Th1) and T follicular helper (TfH) cytokines in cells from human cord blood when compared to R848. Additional in vivo studies in mice showed that neonatal priming in a three-dose vaccination schedule is beneficial when CDA is used as a vaccine adjuvant. Humoral antibody titers were significantly higher in mice that received a neonatal prime as compared to those that did not. This effect was absent when using other adjuvants that were reported as suitable for neonatal vaccination. The biological significance of this immune response was assessed by a challenge with a genetically modified influenza H1N1 PR8 virus. The obtained results confirmed that CDA performed better than any other adjuvant tested. Altogether, our results suggest that CDA is a potent adjuvant in vitro on human cord blood, and in vivo in newborn mice, and thus a suitable candidate for the development of neonatal vaccines. Keywords: cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate (CDA); cyclic di-nucleotides (CDN); first dose efficacy; neonatal vaccines; stimulator of interferon genes (STING).
  • Cohort Profile: The LoewenKIDS Study - life-course perspective on infections, the microbiome and the development of the immune system in early childhood.

    Gottschick, Cornelia; Raupach-Rosin, Heike; Langer, Susan; Hassan, Lamiaa; Horn, Johannes; Dorendorf, Evelyn; Caputo, Mahrrouz; Bittner, Martina; Beier, Lea; Rübsamen, Nicole; et al. (Oxford Academic, 2019-02-27)
    [Noabstract available]
  • Virus Irradiation and COVID-19 Disease

    Durante, Marco; Schulze, Kai; Incerti, Sebastien; Francis, Ziad; Zein, Sara; Guzmán, Carlos Alberto; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-10-20)
    Virus irradiation has been performed for many decades for basic research studies, sterilization, and vaccine development. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently causing an enormous effort worldwide for finding a vaccine against coronavirus. High doses of γ-rays can be used for the development of vaccines that exploit inactivated virus. This technique has been gradually replaced by more practical methods, in particular the use of chemicals, but irradiation remains a simple and effective method used in some cases. The technique employed for inactivating a virus has an impact on its ability to induce an adaptive immune response able to confer effective protection. We propose here that accelerated heavy ions can be used to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 viruses with small damage to the spike proteins of the envelope and can then provide an intact virion for vaccine development.
  • Towards Reduction or Substitution of Cytotoxic DMSO in Biobanking of Functional Bioengineered Megakaryocytes.

    Pogozhykh, Denys; Eicke, Dorothee; Gryshkov, Oleksandr; Wolkers, Willem F; Schulze, Kai; Guzmán, Carlos A; Blasczyk, Rainer; Figueiredo, Constança; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-10-16)
    Donor platelet transfusion is currently the only efficient treatment of life-threatening thrombocytopenia, but it is highly challenged by immunological, quality, and contamination issues, as well as short shelf life of the donor material. Ex vivo produced megakaryocytes and platelets represent a promising alternative strategy to the conventional platelet transfusion. However, practical implementation of such strategy demands availability of reliable biobanking techniques, which would permit eliminating continuous cell culture maintenance, ensure time for quality testing, enable stock management and logistics, as well as availability in a ready-to-use manner. At the same time, protocols applying DMSO-based cryopreservation media were associated with increased risks of adverse long-term side effects after patient use. Here, we show the possibility to develop cryopreservation techniques for iPSC-derived megakaryocytes under defined xeno-free conditions with significant reduction or complete elimination of DMSO. Comprehensive phenotypic and functional in vitro characterization of megakaryocytes has been performed before and after cryopreservation. Megakaryocytes cryopreserved DMSO-free, or using low DMSO concentrations, showed the capability to produce platelets in vivo after transfusion in a mouse model. These findings propose biobanking approaches essential for development of megakaryocyte-based replacement and regenerative therapies.
  • Next Generation Influenza Vaccines: Looking into the Crystal Ball.

    Guzmán, Carlos Alberto; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-08-21)
    Influenza infections are responsible for significant number of deaths and overwhelming costs worldwide every year. Vaccination represents the only cost-efficient alternative to address this major problem in human health. However, current vaccines are fraught by many limitations, being far from optimal. Among them, the need to upgrade vaccines every year through a time-consuming process open to different caveats, and the critical fact that they exhibit poorer efficacy in individuals who are at high risk for severe infections. Where are we? How can knowledge and technologies contribute towards removing current roadblocks? What does the future offer in terms of next generation vaccines?
  • Seropositivity for pathogens associated with chronic infections is a risk factor for all-cause mortality in the elderly: findings from the Memory and Morbidity in Augsburg Elderly (MEMO) Study.

    Zeeb, Marius; Kerrinnes, Tobias; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Guzman, Carlos A; Puppe, Wolfram; Schulz, Thomas F; Peters, Annette; Berger, Klaus; Castell, Stefanie; Karch, André; et al. (Springer, 2020-07-09)
    Immunostimulation by chronic infection has been linked to an increased risk for different non-communicable diseases, which in turn are leading causes of death in high- and middle-income countries. Thus, we investigated if a positive serostatus for pathogens responsible for common chronic infections is individually or synergistically related to reduced overall survival in community dwelling elderly. We used data of 365 individuals from the German MEMO (Memory and Morbidity in Augsburg Elderly) cohort study with a median age of 73 years at baseline and a median follow-up of 14 years. We examined the effect of a positive serostatus at baseline for selected pathogens associated with chronic infections (Helicobacter pylori, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Toxoplasma gondii, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus 1/2, and human herpesvirus 6) on all-cause mortality with multivariable parametric survival models. We found a reduced survival time in individuals with a positive serostatus for Helicobacter pylori (accelerated failure time (AFT) - 15.92, 95% CI - 29.96; - 1.88), cytomegalovirus (AFT - 22.81, 95% CI - 36.41; - 9.22) and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (AFT - 25.25, 95% CI - 43.40; - 7.10), after adjusting for potential confounders. The number of infectious agents an individual was seropositive for had a linear effect on all-cause mortality (AFT per additional infection - 12.42 95% CI - 18.55; - 6.30). Our results suggest an effect of seropositivity for Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato on all-cause mortality in older community dwelling individuals. Further research with larger cohorts and additional biomarkers is required, to assess mediators and molecular pathways of this effect.
  • Respiratory Influenza A Virus Infection Triggers Local and Systemic Natural Killer Cell Activation Toll-Like Receptor 7.

    Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Behrens, Sarah; Boehme, Julia D; Hochnadel, Inga; Riese, Peggy; Guzmán, Carlos A; Kröger, Andrea; Schreiber, Jens; Gunzer, Matthias; Bruder, Dunja; et al. (Frontiers, 2018-02-13)
    The innate immune system senses influenza A virus (IAV) through different pathogen-recognition receptors including Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7). Downstream of viral recognition natural killer (NK) cells are activated as part of the anti-IAV immune response. Despite the known decisive role of TLR7 for NK cell activation by therapeutic immunostimulatory RNAs, the contribution of TLR7 to the NK cell response following IAV infection has not been addressed. We have analyzed lung cytokine responses as well as the activation, interferon (IFN)-γ production, and cytotoxicity of lung and splenic NK cells following sublethal respiratory IAV infection in wild-type and TLR7ko mice. Early airway IFN-γ levels as well as the induction of lung NK cell CD69 expression and IFN-γ production in response to IAV infection were significantly attenuated in TLR7-deficient hosts. Strikingly, respiratory IAV infection also primed splenic NK cells for IFN-γ production, degranulation, and target cell lysis, all of which were fully dependent on TLR7. At the same time, lung type I IFN levels were significantly reduced in TLR7ko mice early following IAV infection, displaying a potential upstream mechanism of the attenuated NK cell activation observed. Taken together, our data clearly demonstrate a specific role for TLR7 signaling in local and systemic NK cell activation following respiratory IAV infection despite the presence of redundant innate IAV-recognition pathways.
  • Responsiveness to Influenza Vaccination Correlates with NKG2C-Expression on NK Cells.

    Riese, Peggy; Trittel, Stephanie; Pathirana, Rishi D; Klawonn, Frank; Cox, Rebecca J; Guzmán, Carlos A; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-06-05)
    Influenza vaccination often results in a large percentage of low responders, especially in high-risk groups. As a first line of defense, natural killer (NK) cells play a crucial role in the fight against infections. However, their implication with regard to vaccine responsiveness is insufficiently assessed. Therefore, this study aimed at the validation of essential NK cell features potentially associated with differential vaccine responsiveness with a special focus on NKG2C- and/or CD57-expressing NK cells considered to harbor memory-like functions. To this end, 16 healthy volunteers were vaccinated with an adjuvanted pandemic influenza vaccine. Vaccine responders and low responders were classified according to their hemagglutination inhibition antibody titers. A majority of responders displayed enhanced frequencies of NKG2C-expressing NK cells 7- or 14-days post-vaccination as compared to low responders, whereas the expression of CD57 was not differentially modulated. The NK cell cytotoxic potential was found to be confined to CD56dimCD16+ NKG2C-expressing NK cells in the responders but not in the low responders, which was further confirmed by stochastic neighbor embedding analysis. The presented study is the first of its kind that ascribes CD56dimCD16+ NKG2C-expressing NK cells a crucial role in biasing adaptive immune responses upon influenza vaccination and suggests NKG2C as a potential biomarker in predicting pandemic influenza vaccine responsiveness.
  • Role of Autophagy in Von Willebrand Factor Secretion by Endothelial Cells and in the In Vivo Thrombin-Antithrombin Complex Formation Promoted by the HIV-1 Matrix Protein p17.

    Bugatti, Antonella; Marsico, Stefania; Mazzuca, Pietro; Schulze, Kai; Ebensen, Thomas; Giagulli, Cinzia; Peña, Esther; Badimón, Lina; Slevin, Mark; Caruso, Arnaldo; et al. (MDPI, 2020-03-16)
  • Mucosal Heterologous Prime/Boost Vaccination Induces Polyfunctional Systemic Immunity, Improving Protection Against .

    Sanchez Alberti, Andrés; Bivona, Augusto E; Matos, Marina N; Cerny, Natacha; Schulze, Kai; Weißmann, Sebastian; Ebensen, Thomas; González, Germán; Morales, Celina; Cardoso, Alejandro C; et al. (Frontiers, 2020-02-21)
    There are several unmet needs in modern immunology. Among them, vaccines against parasitic diseases and chronic infections lead. Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, is an excellent example of a silent parasitic invasion that affects millions of people worldwide due to its progression into the symptomatic chronic phase of infection. In search for novel vaccine candidates, we have previously introduced Traspain, an engineered trivalent immunogen that was designed to address some of the known mechanisms of T. cruzi immune evasion. Here, we analyzed its performance in different DNA prime/protein boost protocols and characterized the systemic immune response associated with diverse levels of protection. Formulations that include a STING agonist, like c-di-AMP in the boost doses, were able to prime a Th1/Th17 immune response. Moreover, comparison between them showed that vaccines that were able to prime polyfunctional cell-mediated immunity at the CD4 and CD8 compartment enhanced protection levels in the murine model. These findings contribute to a better knowledge of the desired vaccine-elicited immunity against T. cruzi and promote the definition of a vaccine correlate of protection against the infection.
  • ADAP Promotes Degranulation and Migration of NK Cells Primed During vivo Listeria monocytogenes Infection in Mice.

    Böning, Martha A L; Trittel, Stephanie; Riese, Peggy; van Ham, Marco; Heyner, Maxi; Voss, Martin; Parzmair, Gerald P; Klawonn, Frank; Jeron, Andreas; Guzman, Carlos A; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    The adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein (ADAP) serves as a multifunctional scaffold and is involved in the formation of immune signaling complexes. To date only limited and moreover conflicting data exist regarding the role of ADAP in NK cells. To extend existing knowledge we investigated ADAP-dependency of NK cells in the context of in vivo infection with the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). Ex vivo analysis of infection-primed NK cells revealed impaired cytotoxic capacity in NK cells lacking ADAP as indicated by reduced CD107a surface expression and inefficient perforin production. However, ADAP-deficiency had no global effect on NK cell morphology or intracellular distribution of CD107a-containing vesicles. Proteomic definition of ADAPko and wild type NK cells did not uncover obvious differences in protein composition during the steady state and moreover, similar early response patterns were induced in NK cells upon infection independent of the genotype. In line with protein network analyses that suggested an altered migration phenotype in naïve ADAPko NK cells, in vitro migration assays uncovered significantly reduced migration of both naïve as well as infection-primed ADAPko NK cells compared to wild type NK cells. Notably, this migration defect was associated with a significantly reduced expression of the integrin CD11a on the surface of splenic ADAP-deficient NK cells 1 day post-Lm infection. We propose that ADAP-dependent alterations in integrin expression might account at least in part for the fact that during in vivo infection significantly lower numbers of ADAPko NK cells accumulate in the spleen i.e., the site of infection. In conclusion, we show here that during systemic Lm infection in mice ADAP is essential for efficient cytotoxic capacity and migration of NK cells.
  • Knockdown of Virus Antigen Expression Increases Therapeutic Vaccine Efficacy in High-titer HBV Carrier Mice.

    Michler, Thomas; Kosinska, Anna D; Festag, Julia; Bunse, Till; Su, Jinpeng; Ringelhan, Marc; Imhof, Hortenzia; Grimm, Dirk; Steiger, Katja; Mogler, Carolin; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-01-28)
    In both models of HBV infection, mice that express hepatocyte-specific small hairpin RNAs or that were given subcutaneous injections of siRNAs had reduced levels of HBV antigens, HBV replication, and viremia (1-3 log10 reduction), compared to mice given control RNAs. Vaccination induced production of HBV-neutralizing antibodies, and increased numbers and functionality of HBV-specific, CD8+ T-cells in mice with low, but not in mice with high levels of HBV antigen. Mice with initially high titers of HBV and knockdown of HBV antigen expression, but not mice with reduced viremia following administration of entecavir, developed polyfunctional, HBV-specific CD8+ T cells and HBV was eliminated.
  • PD-1 expression affects cytokine production by ILC2 and is influenced by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ.

    Batyrova, Banu; Luwaert, Fien; Maravelia, Panagiota; Miyabayashi, Yuria; Vashist, Neha; Stark, Julian M; Soori, Sara Y; Tibbitt, Christopher A; Riese, Peggy; Coquet, Jonathan M; et al. (Wiley, 2019-11-19)
    Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) can provide early cytokine help against a variety of pathogens in the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Type 2 ILC (ILC2) are comparable to T helper 2 cells found in the adaptive immune system, which secrete cytokines such as interleukin 5 (IL-5) and IL-13 and have been found to play roles in host defense against helminth infections and in allergic responses. Recent studies have identified that programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) are highly expressed by ILC2. We examined whether PD-1 plays a role in ILC2 function and whether there was any connection between PD-1 and PPAR-γ METHODS: To ensure that only innate immune cells were present, ILC2 cells were examined from RAG1-/- and PD-1-/- xRAG1-/- mice under steady-state or following inoculation with IL-33. We also tested ILC2 generated from bone marrow of RAG1-/- and PD-1-/- xRAG1-/- mice for their production of cytokines. These in vitro-derived ILC2 were also exposed to agonist and antagonist of PPAR-γ.
  • Key features and homing properties of NK cells in the liver are shaped by activated iNKT cells.

    Trittel, Stephanie; Chambers, Benedict J; Heise, Ulrike; Guzmán, Carlos A; Riese, Peggy; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-11-08)
    The contribution of natural killer (NK) cells to the clearance of hepatic viral infections is well recognized. The recently discovered heterogeneity of NK cell populations renders them interesting targets for immune interventions. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells represent a key interaction partner for hepatic NK cells. The present study addressed whether characteristics of NK cells in the liver can be shaped by targeting iNKT cells. For this, the CD1d-binding pegylated glycolipid αGalCerMPEG was assessed for its ability to modulate the features of NK cells permanently or transiently residing in the liver. In vivo administration resulted in enhanced functionality of educated and highly differentiated CD27+ Mac-1+ NK cells accompanied by an increased proliferation. Improved liver homing was supported by serum-derived and cellular factors. Reduced viral loads in a mCMV infection model confirmed the beneficial effect of NK cells located in the liver upon stimulation with αGalCerMPEG. Thus, targeting iNKT cell-mediated NK cell activation in the liver represents a promising approach for the establishment of liver-directed immune interventions.
  • Mucosal CD8+ T cell responses induced by an MCMV based vaccine vector confer protection against influenza challenge.

    Zheng, Xiaoyan; Oduro, Jennifer D; Boehme, Julia D; Borkner, Lisa; Ebensen, Thomas; Heise, Ulrike; Gereke, Marcus; Pils, Marina C; Krmpotic, Astrid; Guzmán, Carlos A; et al. (PLOS, 2019-09-01)
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous β-herpesvirus that establishes life-long latent infection in a high percentage of the population worldwide. CMV induces the strongest and most durable CD8+ T cell response known in human clinical medicine. Due to its unique properties, the virus represents a promising candidate vaccine vector for the induction of persistent cellular immunity. To take advantage of this, we constructed a recombinant murine CMV (MCMV) expressing an MHC-I restricted epitope from influenza A virus (IAV) H1N1 within the immediate early 2 (ie2) gene. Only mice that were immunized intranasally (i.n.) were capable of controlling IAV infection, despite the greater potency of the intraperitoneally (i.p.) vaccination in inducing a systemic IAV-specific CD8+ T cell response. The protective capacity of the i.n. immunization was associated with its ability to induce IAV-specific tissue-resident memory CD8+ T (CD8TRM) cells in the lungs. Our data demonstrate that the protective effect exerted by the i.n. immunization was critically mediated by antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. CD8TRM cells promoted the induction of IFNγ and chemokines that facilitate the recruitment of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells to the lungs. Overall, our results showed that locally applied MCMV vectors could induce mucosal immunity at sites of entry, providing superior immune protection against respiratory infections.
  • Neutral Lipopolyplexes for In Vivo Delivery of Conventional and Replicative RNA Vaccine.

    Perche, Federico; Clemençon, Rudy; Schulze, Kai; Ebensen, Thomas; Guzmán, Carlos A; Pichon, Chantal; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2019-09-06)
    Nucleic acid vaccination relies on injecting DNA or RNA coding antigen(s) to induce a protective immune response. RNA vaccination is being increasingly used in preclinical and clinical studies. However, few delivery systems have been reported for in vivo delivery of RNA of different sizes. Using a tripartite formulation with RNA, cationic polymer, and anionic liposomes, we were able to encapsulate RNA into neutral lipopolyplexes (LPPs). LPPs were stable in vitro and successfully delivered conventional RNA and replicative RNA to dendritic cells in cellulo. Their injection led to reporter gene expression in mice. Finally, administration of LPP-Replicon RNA (RepRNA) led to an adaptive immune response against the antigen coded by the RepRNA. Accordingly, LPPs may represent a universal formulation for RNA delivery.
  • In vivo Neutralization of Pro-inflammatory Cytokines During Secondary Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection Post Influenza A Virus Infection

    Sharma-Chawla, Niharika; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Christen, Henrike; Boehme, Julia D.; Kershaw, Olivia; Schreiber, Jens; Guzmán, Carlos A.; Bruder, Dunja; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban A.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers Media SA, 2019-08-14)
    An overt pro-inflammatory immune response is a key factor contributing to lethal pneumococcal infection in an influenza pre-infected host and represents a potential target for therapeutic intervention. However, there is a paucity of knowledge about the level of contribution of individual cytokines. Based on the predictions of our previous mathematical modeling approach, the potential benefit of IFN-γ- and/or IL-6-specific antibody-mediated cytokine neutralization was explored in C57BL/6 mice infected with the influenza A/PR/8/34 strain, which were subsequently infected with the Streptococcus pneumoniae strain TIGR4 on day 7 post influenza. While single IL-6 neutralization had no effect on respiratory bacterial clearance, single IFN-γ neutralization enhanced local bacterial clearance in the lungs. Concomitant neutralization of IFN-γ and IL-6 significantly reduced the degree of pneumonia as well as bacteremia compared to the control group, indicating a positive effect for the host during secondary bacterial infection. The results of our model-driven experimental study reveal that the predicted therapeutic value of IFN-γ and IL-6 neutralization in secondary pneumococcal infection following influenza infection is tightly dependent on the experimental protocol while at the same time paving the way toward the development of effective immune therapies.

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