Immunization of a wild koala population with a recombinant Chlamydia pecorum Major Outer Membrane Protein (MOMP) or Polymorphic Membrane Protein (PMP) based vaccine: New insights into immune response, protection and clearance
Marion Desclozeaux1, Amy Robbins2, Martina Jelocnik1, Shahneaz Ali Khan1, Jon Hanger2, Volker Gerdts3, Andrew Potter3, Adam Polkinghorne1, Peter Timms1*
1 Centre for Animal Health Innovation, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia,
2 Endeavour Veterinary Ecology Pty Ltd, Toorbul, Queensland, Australia,
We assessed the effects of two different single-dose anti-Chlamydia pecorum (C. pecorum) vaccines (containing either Major Outer Membrane Protein (3MOMP) or Polymorphic Membrane Protein (Pmp) as antigens) on the immune response of a group of wild koalas. Both vaccines elicited a systemic humoral response as seen by the production of anti-chlamydial IgG antibodies in more than 90% of vaccinated koalas. A mucosal immune response was also observed, with an increase inChlamydia-specific mucosal IgG and/or IgA antibodies in some koalas post-vaccination. Both vaccines elicited a cell-mediated immune response as measured by the production of the cytokines IFN-γ and IL-17 post-vaccination. To determine the level of protection provided by the vaccines under natural conditions we assessed C. pecorum infection loads and chlamydial disease status of all vaccinated koalas pre- and post-vaccination, compared to a non-vaccinated cohort from the same habitat. The MOMP vaccinated koalas that were infected on the day of vaccination showed significant clearance of their infection at 6 months post-vaccination. In contrast, the number of new infections in the PMP vaccine was similar to the control group, with some koalas progressing to disease. Genotyping of the ompA gene from the C. pecorum strains infecting the vaccinated animals, identified genetic variants of ompA-F genotype and a new genotype ompA-O. We found that those animals that were the least well protected became infected with strains of C. pecorum not covered by the vaccine. In conclusion, a single dose vaccine formulated with either recombinant PmpG or MOMP can elicit both cell-mediated and humoral (systemic and mucosal) immune responses, with the MOMP vaccine showing clearance of infection in all infected koalas. Although the capability of our vaccines to stimulate an adaptive response and be protective needs to be fully evaluated, this work illustrates the necessity to combine
epitopes most relevant to a large panel of variable strains with an efficient adjuvant.