A fusion protein comprising pneumococcal surface protein A and a pneumolysin derivate confers protection in a murine model of pneumococcal pneumonia

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PspA and pneumolysin are two important vaccine candidates, able to elicit protection in different models of pneumococcal infection. The high immunogenic potential of PspA, combined with a possible adjuvant effect of pneumolysin derivatives (due to their ability to interact with TLR-4) could greatly improve the immunogenicity and coverage of a proteinbased pneumococcal vaccine. A chimeric protein including the N-terminal region of PspA in fusion with the pneumolysin derivative, PlD1, has been shown to induce high antibody levels against each protein, and protect mice against invasive challenge. The aim of the present study was to investigate the cellular response induced by such vaccine, and to evaluate protection in a murine model of lobar pneumococcal pneumonia. Pneumococcal pneumonia was induced in BALB/c mice by nasal instillation of a high dose of a serotype 14 strain with low virulence. Airway inflammation was confirmed by total and differential cell counts in BAL and by histological analysis of the lungs, and bacterial loads were measured 7 days after challenge. Cytokine levels were determined in the bronchoalveolar fluid (BALF) of mice immunized with rPspA-PlD1 fusion after challenge, by flow cytometry and ELISA. After challenge, the mice developed lung inflammation with no invasion of other sites, as demonstrated by histological analysis. We detected significant production of TNF-α and IL-6 in the BALF, which correlated with protection against pneumonia in the group immunized with rPspA-PlD1. In conclusion, we found that the rPspA-PlD1fusion is protective against pneumococcal pneumonia in mice, and protection is correlated with an early and controlled local inflammatory response. These results are in agreement with previous data demonstrating the efficacy of the fusion protein against pneumococcal sepsis and reinforce the potential of the rPspA-PlD1 protein chimera as a promising vaccine strategy to prevent pneumococcal disease.
Santos TW, Gonçalves PA, Rodríguez D, Pereira JA, Martinez CAR, Leite LCC, et al. A fusion protein comprising pneumococcal surface protein A and a pneumolysin derivate confers protection in a murine model of pneumococcal pneumonia. PloS One. 2022 Dec; 17(12):e0277304. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0277304.
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