Adjuvant modulation of the immune responses and the outcome of infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae


Martín E. Rottenberg PhD, Microbiology and Tumorbiology Center, Karolinska Instiute, Box 280, S171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Immunization with different adjuvants resulted in antithetic outcomes of infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae. Immunization with the outer major protein-2 from C. pneumoniae (OMP-2) emulsified in Freund's complete adjuvant (FCA) thus increased the susceptibility of mice to infection with the bacteria. The detrimental effect was not observed upon inoculation of irrelevant antigens or major outer membrane protein (MOMP) in FCA, but was also observed after immunization with FCA–chlamydial heat shock protein-60 (HSP-60). The harmful effect of FCA-OMP-2 depended on the presence of both CD4+ and CD8+ cells and was mediated by IL-10, as shown using gene-ablated mice. The increased susceptibility to infection caused by FCA-OMP-2 immunization was long-lasting and observed in mice infected 4 months after the last dose of immunogen. In contrast, partial protection against C. pneumoniae was observed when FCA was replaced with oligodeoxynucleotides containing immunostimulatory CpG motifs mixed with Freund's incomplete adjuvant (FIA-IS-CpG). These polar outcomes of infection related to the cytokine pattern: antigen-stimulated spleen cells from FCA-OMP-2-immunized mice showed higher IL-10/IFN-γ ratios than FIA-IS-CpG-OMP-2-immunized animals. In agreement, sera from FCA-OMP-2 showed higher anti-OMP-2 IgG1/IgG2a ratios than FIA-IS-CpG-OMP-2-immunized animals. Finally, OMP-2 also generated a protective response when delivered by a eukaryotic expression vector in tandem with CTLA4, a procedure that targeted OMP-2 to antigen-presenting cells.