Generating a pneumococcal vaccine that is serotype independent and cost effective remains a global challenge. γ-Irradiation has been used widely to sterilize biological products. It can also be utilized as an inactivation technique to generate whole-cell bacterial and viral vaccines with minimal impact on pathogen structure and antigenic determinants. In the present study, we utilized γ-irradiation to inactivate an un-encapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae strain Rx1 with an unmarked deletion of the autolysin gene lytA and with the pneumolysin gene ply replaced with an allele encoding a non-toxic pneumolysoid (PdT) (designated γ-PN vaccine). Intranasal vaccination of C57BL/6 mice with γ-PN was shown to elicit serotype-independent protection in lethal challenge models of pneumococcal pneumonia and sepsis. Vaccine efficacy was shown to be reliant on B-cells and interleukin (IL)-17A responses. Interestingly, immunization promoted IL-17 production by innate cells not T helper 17 (Th17) cells. These data are the first to report the development of a non-adjuvanted intranasal γ-irradiated pneumococcal vaccine that generates effective serotype-independent protection, which is mediated by both humoral and innate IL-17 responses.

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