Salmonella typhimurium strains expressing foreign antigens of various pathogens are capable of eliciting antigen-specific humoral and cellular immune responses. Attenuated S. typhimurium strain chi4550 (delta(cya) delta(crp) delta(asd)) was used as an expression vector for herpes simplex virus (HSV) antigens. Genes encoding glycoprotein D (gD) and the immediate-early protein ICP27 of HSV-1 were cloned and expressed in plasmid pYA292 (asd+) and subsequently placed into chi4550. Following two oral immunizations, the protective efficacy of recombinant strains against zosteriform challenge with HSV-1 was measured in 3-4-week-old BALB/c mice. Levels of protection observed were 77% with the ICP27 construct but only 31% with the gD construct. Zosteriform protection correlates with a CD4+-mediated delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reaction against HSV. Accordingly, significant DTH was observed only in mice immunized orally with the S. typhimurium ICP27 construct. ELISA analysis of antigen-specific humoral responses failed to detect serum antibody responses following oral administration although recombinant S. typhimurium were isolated from spleens of orally dosed mice up to day 30. Intravenous (i.v.) immunization with the gD-expressing construct did, however, induce detectable serum antibody responses. Some humoral IgA responses against gD in faecal samples were detected as early as 3 weeks post-oral immunization while those induced by the i.v. route were slightly lower. These data suggest that recombinant S. typhimurium HSV antigens are capable of inducing immunity against HSV, some aspects of which are protective against HSV challenge.


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