The robustness of immune responses to an antigen could be dictated by the route of vaccine inoculation. Traditional smallpox vaccines, essentially vaccinia virus strains, that were used in the eradication of smallpox were administered by percutaneous inoculation (skin scarification). The modified vaccinia virus Ankara is licensed as a smallpox vaccine in Europe and Canada and currently undergoing clinical development in the United States. MVA is also being investigated as a vector for the delivery of heterologous genes for prophylactic or therapeutic immunization. Since MVA is replication-deficient, MVA and MVAvectored vaccines are often inoculated through the intramuscular, intradermal or subcutaneous routes. Vaccine inoculation via the intramuscular, intradermal or subcutaneous routes requires the use of injection needles, and an estimated 10 to 20% of the population of the United States has needle phobia. Following an observation in our laboratory that a replication-deficient recombinant vaccinia virus derived from the New York City Board of Health strain elicited protective immune responses in a mouse model upon inoculation by tail scarification, we investigated whether MVA and MVA recombinants can elicit protective responses following percutaneous administration in mouse models. Our data suggest that MVA administered by percutaneous inoculation, elicited vaccinia-specific antibody responses, and protected mice from lethal vaccinia virus challenge, at levels comparable to or better than subcutaneous or intramuscular inoculation. High titers of specific neutralizing antibodies were elicited in mice inoculated with a recombinant MVA expressing the herpes simplex type 2 glycoprotein D after scarification. Similarly, a recombinant MVA expressing the hemagglutinin of attenuated influenza virus rgA/Viet Nam/1203/2004 (H5N1) elicited protective immune responses when administered at low doses by scarification. Taken together, our data suggest that MVA and MVA-vectored vaccines inoculated by scarification can elicit protective immune responses that are comparable to subcutaneous vaccination, and may allow for antigen sparing when vaccine supply is limited.
Meseda, C. A., Atukorale, V., Kuhn, J., Schmeisser, F., & Weir, J. P. (2016). Percutaneous vaccination as an effective method of delivery of MVA and MVAVectored vaccines. PLoS ONE, 11(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149364