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Gamma-irradiation of Streptococcus pneumoniae for the use as an immunogenic whole cell vaccine

Jwa, MY;Jeong, S;Ko, EB;Kim, AR;Kim, HY;Kim, SK;Seo, HS;Yun, CH;Han, SH;

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major respiratory pathogen that causes millions of deaths worldwide. Although subunit vaccines formulated with the capsular polysaccharides or their protein conjugates are currently-available, low-cost vaccines with wide serotype coverage still remain to be developed, especially for developing countries. Recently, gamma- irradiation has been considered as an effective inactivation method to prepare S. pneumoniae vaccine candidate. In this study, we investigated the immunogenicity and protective immunity of gamma-irradiated S. pneumoniae (r-SP), by comparing with heat-inactivated S. pneumoniae (h-SP) and formalin-inactivated S. pneumoniae (f-SP), both of which were made by traditional inactivation methods. Intranasal immunization of C57BL/6 mice with r-SP in combination with cholera toxin as an adjuvant enhanced S. pneumoniaespecific antibodies on the airway mucosal surface and in sera more potently than that with h-SP or f-SP under the same conditions. In addition, sera from mice immunized with r-SP potently induced opsonophagocytic killing activity more effectively than those of h-SP or f-SP, implying that r-SP could induce protective antibodies. Above all, immunization with r-SP effectively protected mice against S. pneumoniae infection. Collectively, these results suggest that gamma- irradiation is an effective method for the development of a killed whole cell pneumococcal vaccine that elicits robust mucosal and systemic immune responses.