Vaxfectin-adjuvanted plasmid DNA vaccine improves protection and immunogenicity in a murine model of genital herpes infection.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The Journal of general virology, Volume 93, Issue Pt 6, p.1305-15 (2012)


Adjuvants, Immunologic, Animals, Antibodies, Viral, Female, Herpes Genitalis, Herpesvirus 2, Human, July 2012, MICE, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Phosphatidylethanolamines, Plasmids, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Vaccines, DNA, Viral Envelope Proteins, Viral Vaccines


The herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) envelope glycoprotein (gD2) was evaluated as a potential antigen candidate for a plasmid DNA (pDNA)-based HSV-2 vaccine. The pDNA was formulated with Vaxfectin, a cationic lipid-based adjuvant, and tested in a murine HSV-2 lethal challenge model. gD2 was expressed as full-length (FL) and secreted (S) gD2 forms. A 0.1 µg pDNA dose was tested to distinguish treatment conditions for survival and a 100 µg pDNA dose was tested to distinguish treatment conditions for reduction in vaginal and latent HSV-2 copies. Vaxfectin-formulated gD2 pDNA significantly increased serum IgG titres and survival for both FL gD2 and S gD2 compared with gD2 pDNA alone. Mice immunized with FL gD2 formulated with Vaxfectin showed reduction in vaginal and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) HSV-2 copies. The stringency of this protection was further evaluated by testing Vaxfectin-formulated FL gD2 pDNA at a high 500 LD(50) inoculum. At this high viral challenge, the 0.1 µg dose of FL gD2 Vaxfectin-formulated pDNA yielded 80 % survival compared with no survival for FL gD2 pDNA alone. Vaxfectin-formulated FL gD2 pDNA, administered at a 100 µg pDNA dose, significantly reduced HSV-2 DNA copy number, compared with FL gD2 DNA alone. In addition, 40 % of mice vaccinated with adjuvanted FL pDNA had no detectable HSV-2 viral genomes in the DRG, whereas all mice vaccinated with gD2 pDNA alone were positive for HSV-2 viral genomes. These results show the potential contribution of Vaxfectin-gD2 pDNA to a future multivalent HSV-2 vaccine.