We have previously shown that following intranasal exposure to influenza virus, specific plasma cells are generated in the nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) and maintained for the life of the animal. However, we also showed that following infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), specific plasma cells are generated in the NALT but wane quickly and are not maintained even after challenge, even though RSV-specific serum antibody responses remain robust. Only infection with influenza virus generated sterilising immunity, implying a role for these long-lived plasma cells in protection. We show here that the RSV-specific IgA NALT plasma cell population and lung antibody levels can be substantially boosted, both at acute and memory time points, by intranasal immunisation with inactivated RSV (iRSV) in combination with bacterial outer membrane vesicles (OMV) compared to live RSV alone. Finally, challenge with live RSV showed that immunisation with iRSV and OMV protect against both virus replication in the lung and the eosinophil infiltrate generated by either live RSV or iRSV alone. These data show that immunisation with iRSV and OMV maintains a NALT RSV-specific plasma cell population and generates an efficient protective immune response following RSV infection.
See accompanying commentary: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.200636118