Vaccine. 2019 Jun 27;37(29):3770-3778. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.05.068

Awasthi S, Hook LM, Swaminathan G, Cairns TM, Brooks B, Smith JS, Ditto NT, Gindy ME, Bett AJ, Espeseth AS, Cohen GH, Friedman HM

Abstract
We are interested in developing a vaccine that prevents genital herpes. Adjuvants have a major impact on vaccine immunogenicity. We compared two adjuvants, an experimental Merck Sharp & Dohme lipid nanoparticle (LNP) adjuvant, LNP-2, with CpG oligonucleotide combined with alum for immunogenicity in mice when administered with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) glycoproteins C, D and E (gC2, gD2, gE2). The immunogens are intended to produce neutralizing antibodies to gC2 and gD2, antibodies to gD2 and gE2 that block cell-to-cell spread, and antibodies to gE2 and gC2 that block immune evasion from antibody and complement, respectively. Overall, CpG/alum was better at producing serum and vaginal IgG binding antibodies, neutralizing antibodies, antibodies that block virus spread from cell-to-cell, and antibodies that block immune evasion domains on gC2. We used a novel high throughput biosensor assay to further assess differences in immunogenicity by mapping antibody responses to seven crucial epitopes on gD2 involved in virus entry or cell-to-cell spread. We found striking differences between CpG/alum and LNP-2. Mice immunized with gD2 CpG/alum produced higher titers of antibodies than LNP-2 to six of seven crucial epitopes and produced antibodies to more crucial epitopes than LNP-2. Measuring epitope-specific antibodies helped to define mechanisms by which CpG/alum outperformed LNP-2 and is a valuable technique to compare adjuvants.

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