Indexed on: 31 Dec '14Published on: 31 Dec '14Published in: PNAS
Pulmonary immunization enhances local humoral and cell-mediated mucosal protection, which are critical for vaccination against lung-specific pathogens such as influenza or tuberculosis. A variety of nanoparticle (NP) formulations have been tested preclinically for pulmonary vaccine development, yet the role of NP surface charge on downstream immune responses remains poorly understood. We used the Particle Replication in Non-Wetting Templates (PRINT) process to synthesize hydrogel NPs that varied only in surface charge and otherwise maintained constant size, shape, and antigen loading. Pulmonary immunization with ovalbumin (OVA)-conjugated cationic NPs led to enhanced systemic and lung antibody titers compared with anionic NPs. Increased antibody production correlated with robust germinal center B-cell expansion and increased activated CD4(+) T-cell populations in lung draining lymph nodes. Ex vivo treatment of dendritic cells (DCs) with OVA-conjugated cationic NPs induced robust antigen-specific T-cell proliferation with ∼ 100-fold more potency than soluble OVA alone. Enhanced T-cell expansion correlated with increased expression of surface MHCII, T-cell coactivating receptors, and key cytokines/chemokine expression by DCs treated with cationic NPs, which were not observed with anionic NPs or soluble OVA. Together, these studies highlight the importance of NP surface charge when designing pulmonary vaccines, and our findings support the notion that cationic NP platforms engender potent humoral and mucosal immune responses.