This article was originally published here
Adv Ther (Weinh). 2021 Feb;4(2):2000228. doi: 10.1002/adtp.202000228. Epub 2021 Feb 24.
We here introduce a new paradigm to promote pulmonary DNA vaccination. Specifically, we demonstrate that nanoparticles designed to rapidly penetrate airway mucus (mucus-penetrating particle or MPP) enhance the delivery of inhaled model DNA vaccine (i.e. ovalbumin-expressing plasmids) to pulmonary dendritic cells (DC), leading to robust and durable local and trans-mucosal immunity. In contrast, mucus-impermeable particles were poorly taken up by pulmonary DC following inhalation, despite their superior ability to mediate DC uptake in vitro compared to MPP. In addition to the enhanced immunity achieved in mucosal surfaces, inhaled MPP unexpectedly provided significantly greater systemic immune responses compared to gold-standard approaches applied in the clinic for systemic vaccination, including intradermal injection and intramuscular electroporation. We also showed here that inhaled MPP significantly enhanced the survival of an orthotopic mouse model of aggressive lung cancer compared to the gold-standard approaches. Importantly, we discovered that MPP-mediated pulmonary DNA vaccination induced memory T-cell immunity, particularly the ready-to-act effector memory-biased phenotype, both locally and systemically. The findings here underscore the importance of breaching the airway mucus barrier to facilitate DNA vaccine uptake by pulmonary DC and thus to initiate full-blown immune responses.