Although antivirals are important tools to control severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, effective vaccines are essential to control the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Plant-derived virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidates have previously demonstrated immunogenicity and efficacy against influenza. Here, we report the immunogenicity and protection induced in rhesus macaques by intramuscular injections of a VLP bearing a SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (CoVLP) vaccine candidate formulated with or without Adjuvant System 03 (AS03) or cytidine-phospho-guanosine (CpG) 1018. Although a single dose of the unadjuvanted CoVLP vaccine candidate stimulated humoral and cell-mediated immune responses, booster immunization (at 28 days after priming) and adjuvant administration significantly improved both responses, with higher immunogenicity and protection provided by the AS03-adjuvanted CoVLP. Fifteen micrograms of CoVLP adjuvanted with AS03 induced a polyfunctional interleukin-2 (IL-2)-driven response and IL-4 expression in CD4 T cells. Animals were challenged by multiple routes (i.e., intratracheal, intranasal, and ocular) with a total viral dose of 106 plaque-forming units of SARS-CoV-2. Lower viral replication in nasal swabs and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) as well as fewer SARS-CoV-2-infected cells and immune cell infiltrates in the lungs concomitant with reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemotactic factors in the BALF were observed in animals immunized with the CoVLP adjuvanted with AS03. No clinical, Cellular & Molecular Immunologypathologic, or virologic evidence of vaccine-associated enhanced disease was observed in vaccinated animals. The CoVLP adjuvanted with AS03 was therefore selected for vaccine development and clinical trials.

Fuente: Cellular & Molecular Immunology

Cellular & Molecular Immunology

Published: 05 January 2022