• Blockade of Neutrophil's Chemokine Receptors CXCR1/2 Abrogate Liver Damage in Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure.

      Khanam, Arshi; Trehanpati, Nirupma; Riese, Peggy; Rastogi, Archana; Guzman, Carlos A.; Sarin, Shiv Kumar; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Neutrophils serve as critical players in the pathogenesis of liver diseases. Chemokine receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2 are required for neutrophil chemotaxis to the site of inflammation/injury and are crucial in hepatic inflammatory response. However, key mechanism of neutrophil-mediated liver injury in acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) remains highly elusive; which could be targeted for the development of new therapeutic interventions.
    • Mucosal Administration of Cycle-Di-Nucleotide-Adjuvanted Virosomes Efficiently Induces Protection against Influenza H5N1 in Mice.

      Ebensen, Thomas; Debarry, Jennifer; Pedersen, Gabriel K; Blazejewska, Paulina; Weissmann, Sebastian; Schulze, Kai; McCullough, Kenneth C; Cox, Rebecca J; Guzmán, Carlos A; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      The need for more effective influenza vaccines is highlighted by the emergence of novel influenza strains, which can lead to new pandemics. There is a growing population of susceptible subjects at risk for severe complications of influenza, such as the elderly who are only in part protected by current licensed seasonal vaccines. One strategy for improving seasonal and pandemic vaccines takes advantage of adjuvants to boost and modulate evoked immune responses. In this study, we examined the capacity of the recently described adjuvant cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) to serve as an adjuvant for improved mucosal influenza vaccines, and induce effective protection against influenza H5N1. In detail, c-di-AMP promoted (i) effective local and systemic humoral immune responses, including protective hemagglutination inhibition titers, (ii) effective cellular responses, including multifunctional T cell activity, (iii) induction of long-lasting immunity, and (iv) protection against viral challenge. Furthermore, we demonstrated the dose-sparing capacity of the adjuvant as well as the ability to evoke cross-clade protective immune responses. Overall, our results suggest that c-di-AMP contributes to the generation of a protective cell-mediated immune response required for efficacious vaccination against influenza, which supports the further development of c-di-AMP as an adjuvant for seasonal and pandemic influenza mucosal vaccines.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.