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IL-22 deficiency increases CD4 T cell responses to mucosal immunization

Budda, SA;Zenewicz, LA;

Mucosal vaccines are a promising platform for combatting infectious diseases for which we still lack effective preventative measures. Optimizing these vaccines to generate the best protective immune responses with the least complicated immunization regimen is imperative. Mucosal barriers are the first line of defense against many pathogens and, as such, we looked to their biology for strategies to improve vaccine delivery. Interleukin-22 (IL-22) is a key cytokine in both healthy and inflamed mucosal tissues. IL-22 promotes epithelial cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis, upregulates mucin and antimicrobial peptides, all of which promote mucosal barrier integrity. In this study, we find that IL-22 impairs the development of a T cell response during mucosal immunization. Compared to wild-type control mice, IL-22 deficient mice had increased antigen-specific CD4 T cell responses to intrarectal immunization using a protein and cholera toxin adjuvant vaccine. When immunized systemically with the same protein antigen adsorbed to alum, no differences in the CD4 T cell response between wild-type and IL-22 deficient mice were detected. This suggests that transiently inhibiting IL-22 during mucosal vaccination could enhance T cell responses. The broad-applicability of this proposed approach would allow for improvement of many existing mucosal vaccine regimens and have positive implications in the development of more efficacious mucosal vaccines. Copyright 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.