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Protection of mice against an influenza virus infection by oral vaccination with viral nucleoprotein incorporated into immunostimulating complexes


Influenza A virus nucleoprotein (NP) was integrated into immunostimulating complexes (ISCOMs) after attachment of bacterial lipopolysaccharide to the antigen. Oral immunization with these NP-ISCOMs protected mice fully against an otherwise lethal challenge infection with an unrelated influenza virus subtype without the appearance of severe clinical signs or extensive pathological lesions in the lungs. Mice immunized with analogous bovine serum albumine-incorporated ISCOMs all died. After oral immunization, high titers of NP-specific antibodies, particularly IgA, could be detected in the bronchoalveolar fluid and in the blood serum. No cytotoxic lymphocytes could be demonstrated in the spleens or the lungs of vaccinated mice, and no anti-NP antibody-dependent cytolysis of infected host cells was mediated by complement or in the form of an antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity. However, a vigorous delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction was produced after probing vaccinated animals with purified NP. No comparable protective immunity or antibody response was induced by a strictly intragastric administration of NP-ISCOMs. It appears, therefore, that the general and local immune response in the lungs was primarily stimulated through contact of NP-ISCOMs with the mucous membrane of the oro-pharyngeal cavity and that cytotoxic effects did not play a major role for the establishment of the protective immunity. Partial protection against a lethal challenge was observed in chickens immunized with NP-ISCOMs in the drinking water.

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Correspondence to K. Scheepers.

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Scheepers, K., Becht, H. Protection of mice against an influenza virus infection by oral vaccination with viral nucleoprotein incorporated into immunostimulating complexes. Med Microbiol Immunol 183, 265–278 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00198460

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  • Influenza
  • Influenza Virus
  • Challenge Infection
  • Oral Immunization
  • Bronchoalveolar Fluid