Continued evolution of highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses causing high mortality in humans obviates need for broadly cross-reactive vaccines. For this, hemagglutinin (HA) inducing specific protective antibodies, highly conserved nucleoprotein (NP), and ectodomain of matrix (M2e) protein, either singly or in combination, were evaluated in BALB/c mice. Recombinant HA and NP (baculovirus system) and M2e (synthetic peptide) and 3 adjuvants, that is, liposomes, Mw (heat killed Mycobacterium w), and alum were utilized for the homologous virus challenge. Additional immunogens included liposome-encapsulated HA/NP proteins and corresponding DNAs. Mice groups received two doses of respective formulations given at 3-week intervals and challenged intranasally with 100LD50 of H5N1 virus strain. Dynamics of weight loss, lung viral load, titres of IgG-anti-HA, NP, and M2e antibodies (ELISA), and IgG-subtype analysis was done. Two doses of all the formulations led to 100% seroconversion against the immunogens evaluated (100% seroconversion after the first dose in majority). Antibody titres against the components were dependent on the adjuvant and combination. HA-driven Th2 response with all the adjuvants, balanced Th1/Th2 response to NP protein, and Th2-bias with alum were noted. Low anti-M2e antibody titres did not allow subtype analysis. On challenge, complete protection was observed with Mw-HA, alum-HA+NP, Lipo-HA+NP+M2e, alum-HA+NP+M2e, and HA-DP formulations with 12-fold, 8-fold, 720-fold, 17-fold, and no reduction, respectively, in lung viral load. In conclusion, the results identify several adjuvant-immunogen combinations conferring 100% protection in mice that need further evaluation in higher animals.
Evaluation of Liposome, Heat-Killed Mycobacterium w, and Alum Adjuvants in the Protection Offered by Different Combinations of Recombinant HA, NP proteins, and M2e Against Homologous H5N1 Virus.