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Toll-like receptor 5-dependent immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a recombinant fusion protein vaccine containing the nontoxic domains of Clostridium difficile toxins A and B and Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium flagellin in a mouse model of

Ghose, C;Verhagen, JM;Chen, X;Yu, J;Huang, Y;Chenesseau, O;Kelly, CP;Ho, DD;

Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming bacillus that produces toxin-mediated enteric disease. C. difficile expresses two major virulence factors, toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB). Human and animal studies demonstrate a clear association between humoral immunity to these toxins and protection against C. difficile infection (CDI). The receptor binding-domains (RBDs) of TcdA and TcdB are known to be immunogenic. Here, we tested the immunoadjuvant properties of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium flagellin (FliC) subunit D1 as an innate immune agonist expressed as a recombinant fusion vaccine targeting the RBDs of TcdA and TcdB in mice. Intraperitoneally immunized mice developed prominent anti-TcdA and anti-TcdB immunoglobulin G in serum. The protective efficacy of the recombinant vaccines, with or without an adjuvant, was tested in a mouse model of CDI that closely represents the human disease. Following intraperitoneal immunization equivalent to two doses of toxoid A and toxoid B vaccine adjuvanted with alum and oral challenge with C. difficile VPI 10463, C57BL/6 mice were able to mount a protective immune response that prevented diarrhea and death compared to mice immunzed with alum alone. These results are significantly different from those for control mice (P < 0.001). These results provide evidence that a recombinant protein-based vaccine targeting the RBDs of the C. difficile toxins adjuvanted with S. Typhimurium flagellin can induce rapid, high-level protection in a mouse model of CDI when challenged with the homologous strain from which the vaccine antigens were derived and warrant further preclinical testing against clinically relevant C. difficile strains in the mouse and hamster models of CDI.