Recombinant live Mycobacterium bovis BCG vectors (rBCG) induce strong cellular and humoral immune responses against various antigens after either systemic or oral immunization of mice. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses may contribute to the control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections whose portal of entry is the gastrointestinal or genital mucosa. In this study, we immunized BALB/c mice with a recombinant BCG SIV nef and observed its behavior in oropharyngeal and target organ lymphoid tissues. The cellular immune responses, particularly the intestinal intraepithelial and systemic CTL responses, were investigated. The results showed that rBCG SIV nef translocated the oropharyngeal mucosa and intestinal epithelium. It diffused to and persisted in target lymphoid organs. Specific SIV Nef peptide proliferative responses and cytokine production were observed. Strong systemic and mucosal CTL responses were induced. In particular, we demonstrated direct specific anti-Nef CTL in intestinal intraepithelial CD8beta+ T cells. These findings provide evidence that orally administered rBCG SIV nef may contribute to local defenses against viral invasion. Therefore, rBCG SIV nef could be a candidate vaccine to protect against SIV infection and may be used to develop an oral rBCG HIV nef vaccine
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