An intranasal stringent response vaccine targeting dendritic cells as a novel adjunctive therapy against tuberculosis

Styliani Karanika, James T. Gordy, Pranita Neupane, Theodoros Karantanos, Jennie Ruelas Castillo, Darla Quijada, Kaitlyn Comstock, Avinaash K. Sandhu, Aakanksha R. Kapoor, Yinan Hui, Samuel K. Ayeh, Rokeya Tasneen, Stefanie Krug, Carina Danchik, Tianyin Wang, Courtney Schill, Richard B. Markham, Petros C. Karakousis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lengthy tuberculosis (TB) treatment is required to overcome the ability of a subpopulation of persistent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) to remain in a non-replicating, antibiotic-tolerant state characterized by metabolic remodeling, including induction of the RelMtb-mediated stringent response. We developed a novel therapeutic DNA vaccine containing a fusion of the relMtb gene with the gene encoding the immature dendritic cell-targeting chemokine, MIP-3α/CCL20. To augment mucosal immune responses, intranasal delivery was also evaluated. We found that intramuscular delivery of the MIP-3α/relMtb (fusion) vaccine or intranasal delivery of the relMtb (non-fusion) vaccine potentiate isoniazid activity more than intramuscular delivery of the DNA vaccine expressing relMtb alone in a chronic TB mouse model (absolute reduction of Mtb burden: 0.63 log10 and 0.5 log10 colony-forming units, respectively; P=0.0002 and P=0.0052), inducing pronounced Mtb-protective immune signatures. The combined approach involving intranasal delivery of the DNA MIP-3α/relMtb fusion vaccine demonstrated the greatest mycobactericidal activity together with isoniazid when compared to each approach alone (absolute reduction of Mtb burden: 1.13 log10, when compared to the intramuscular vaccine targeting relMtb alone; P<0.0001), as well as robust systemic and local Th1 and Th17 responses. This DNA vaccination strategy may be a promising adjunctive approach combined with standard therapy to shorten curative TB treatment, and also serves as proof of concept for treating other chronic bacterial infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number972266
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Sep 16 2022


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • T cells
  • immunotherapy
  • intranasal route
  • persistence
  • stringent response
  • tuberculosis DNA vaccines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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