PloS one 2016 08 1511(8) e0161193 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0161193
Current hemagglutinin (HA)-based seasonal influenza vaccines induce vaccine strain-specific neutralizing antibodies that usually fail to provide protection against mismatched circulating viruses. Inclusion in the vaccine of highly conserved internal proteins such as the nucleoprotein (NP) and the matrix protein 1 (M1) was shown previously to increase vaccine efficacy by eliciting cross-reactive T-cells. However, appropriate delivery systems are required for efficient priming of T-cell responses. In this study, we demonstrated that administration of novel self-amplifying mRNA (SAM®) vectors expressing influenza NP (SAM(NP)), M1 (SAM(M1)), and NP and M1 (SAM(M1-NP)) delivered with lipid nanoparticles (LNP) induced robust polyfunctional CD4 T helper 1 cells, while NP-containing SAM also induced cytotoxic CD8 T cells. Robust expansions of central memory (TCM) and effector memory (TEM) CD4 and CD8 T cells were also measured. An enhanced recruitment of NP-specific cytotoxic CD8 T cells was observed in the lungs of SAM(NP)-immunized mice after influenza infection that paralleled with reduced lung viral titers and pathology, and increased survival after homologous and heterosubtypic influenza challenge. Finally, we demonstrated for the first time that the co-administration of RNA (SAM(M1-NP)) and protein (monovalent inactivated influenza vaccine (MIIV)) was feasible, induced simultaneously NP-, M1- and HA-specific T cells and HA-specific neutralizing antibodies, and enhanced MIIV efficacy against a heterologous challenge. In conclusion, systemic administration of SAM vectors expressing conserved internal influenza antigens induced protective immune responses in mice, supporting the SAM® platform as another promising strategy for the development of broad-spectrum universal influenza vaccines.