Image_8_Induction of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Lipid-Specific T Cell Responses by Pulmonary Delivery of Mycolic Acid-Loaded Polymeric Micellar Nanocarriers.TIF

<p>Mycolic acid (MA), a major lipid component of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) cell wall, can be presented by the non-polymorphic antigen presenting molecule CD1b to T cells isolated from Mtb-infected individuals. These MA-specific CD1b-restricted T cells are cytotoxic, produce Th1 cytokines, and form memory populations, suggesting that MA can be explored as a potential subunit vaccine candidate for TB. However, the controlled elicitation of MA-specific T cell responses has been challenging due to difficulties in the targeted delivery of lipid antigens and a lack of suitable animal models. In this study, we generated MA-loaded micellar nanocarriers (MA-Mc) comprised of self-assembled poly(ethylene glycol)-bl-poly(propylene sulfide; PEG-PPS) copolymers conjugated to an acid sensitive fluorophore to enhance intracellular delivery of MA to phagocytic immune cells. Using humanized CD1 transgenic (hCD1Tg) mice, we found these nanobiomaterials to be endocytosed by bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DCs) and localized to lysosomal compartments. Additionally, MA-Mc demonstrated superior efficacy over free MA in activating MA-specific TCR transgenic (DN1) T cells in vitro. Following intranasal immunization, MA-Mc were primarily taken up by alveolar macrophages and DCs in the lung and induced activation and proliferation of adoptively transferred DN1 T cells. Furthermore, intranasal immunization with MA-Mc induced MA-specific T cell responses in the lungs of hCD1Tg mice. Collectively, our data demonstrates that pulmonary delivery of MA via PEG-PPS micelles to DCs can elicit potent CD1b-restricted T cell responses both in vitro and in vivo and MA-Mc could be explored as subunit vaccines against Mtb infection.</p>