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Hum Vaccin Immunother ; 18(5): 2048622, 2022 11 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1900981


We report a Human Immune System (HIS)-humanized mouse model ("DRAGA": HLA-A2.HLA-DR4.Rag1KO.IL-2 RγcKO.NOD) for COVID-19 research. DRAGA mice express transgenically HLA-class I and class-II molecules in the mouse thymus to promote human T cell development and human B cell Ig-class switching. When infused with human hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood reconstitute a functional human immune system, as well as human epi/endothelial cells in lung and upper respiratory airways expressing the human ACE2 receptor for SARS-CoV-2. The DRAGA mice were able to sustain SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 25 days. Infected mice showed replicating virus in the lungs, deteriorating clinical condition, and human-like lung immunopathology including human lymphocyte infiltrates, microthrombi and pulmonary sequelae. Among the intra-alveolar and peri-bronchiolar lymphocyte infiltrates, human lung-resident (CD103+) CD8+ and CD4+ T cells were sequestered in epithelial (CD326+) lung niches and secreted granzyme B and perforin, suggesting anti-viral cytotoxic activity. Infected mice also mounted human IgG antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins. Hence, HIS-DRAGA mice showed unique advantages as a surrogate in vivo human model for studying SARS-CoV-2 immunopathological mechanisms and testing the safety and efficacy of candidate vaccines and therapeutics.

COVID-19 , HLA-DR4 Antigen , Animals , B-Lymphocytes , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Disease Models, Animal , Endothelial Cells , HLA-A2 Antigen/genetics , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred NOD , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2
NPJ Vaccines ; 6(1): 156, 2021 Dec 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585846


New generation plasmid DNA vaccines may be a safe, fast and simple emergency vaccine platform for preparedness against emerging viral pathogens. Applying platform optimization strategies, we tested the pre-clinical immunogenicity and protective effect of a candidate DNA plasmid vaccine specific for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The DNA vaccine induced spike-specific binding IgG and neutralizing antibodies in mice, rabbits, and rhesus macaques together with robust Th1 dominant cellular responses in small animals. Intradermal and intramuscular needle-free administration of the DNA vaccine yielded comparable immune responses. In a vaccination-challenge study of rhesus macaques, the vaccine demonstrated protection from viral replication in the lungs following intranasal and intratracheal inoculation with SARS-CoV-2. In conclusion, the candidate plasmid DNA vaccine encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is immunogenic in different models and confers protection against lung infection in nonhuman primates. Further evaluation of this DNA vaccine candidate in clinical trials is warranted.