Chlamydia trachomatis is a major cause of sexually transmitted diseases worldwide. There currently is no vaccine to protect against chlamydial infection of the female reproductive tract. Vaccine development has predominantly involved using the murine model, however infection of female guinea pigs with Chlamydia caviae more closely resembles chlamydial infection of the human female reproductive tract, and presents a better model to assess potential human chlamydial vaccines. We immunised female guinea pigs intranasally with recombinant major outer membrane protein (r-MOMP) combined with CpG-10109 and cholera toxin adjuvants. Both systemic and mucosal immune responses were elicited in immunised animals. MOMP-specific IgG and IgA were present in the vaginal mucosae, and high levels of MOMP-specific IgG were detected in the serum of immunised animals. Antibodies from the vaginal mucosae were also shown to be capable of neutralising C. caviae in vitro. Following immunisation, animals were challenged intravaginally with a live C. caviae infection of 102 inclusion forming units. We observed a decrease in duration of infection and a significant (p<0.025) reduction in infection load in r-MOMP immunised animals, compared to animals immunised with adjuvant only. Importantly, we also observed a marked reduction in upper reproductive tract (URT) pathology in r-MOMP immunised animals. Intranasal immunisation of female guinea pigs with r-MOMP was able to provide partial protection against C. caviae infection, not only by reducing chlamydial burden but also URT pathology. This data demonstrates the value of using the guinea pig model to evaluate potential chlamydial vaccines for protection against infection and disease pathology caused by C. trachomatis in the female reproductive tract
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