Intranasal administration of recombinant influenza hemagglutinin (rHA) antigen or inactivated virus with nanoparticles (NPs) composed of poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) and chitosan which are safe, natural materials, and able to target the mucosal membrane as a mucosal adjuvant, could induce a high degree of protective mucosal immunity in the respiratory tract. Intranasal immunization with mixture of rHA antigen or inactivated virus and γ-PGA/chitosan nanoparticles (PC NPs) induced not only a high anti-HA immunoglobulin A (IgA) response in lung and IgG response in serum, including anti-HA neutralizing antibodies, but also an influenza virus-specific cell-mediated immune response. Also, PC NPs could function as a potential mucosal adjuvant when it was compared with the well-known mucosal adjuvant, cholera toxin (CT). Intranasal administration of rHA antigen or inactivated virus with PC NPs protected mice against challenge with a lethal dose of the highly pathogenic influenza A H5N1 virus. These results suggested that application of PC NPs with a subunit antigen of influenza produced by prokaryotic expression system provides several solutions to the current problems of the influenza vaccines using inactivated influenza virus. Moreover, our finding about a sufficient function of PC NPs to elevate vaccine efficacy led us to consider that it can be useful in clinical applications as a potent mucosal adjuvant with safety. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
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