Background: In highrisk populations, allergenspecific prophylaxis could protect from sensitization and subsequent development of allergic disease. However, such treatment might itself induce sensitization and allergies, thus requiring hypoallergenic vaccine formulations. We here characterized the preventive potential of viruslike nanoparticles (VNP) expressing surfaceexposed or shielded allergens.
Methods: Fulllength major mugwort pollen allergen Art v 1 was selectively targeted either to the surface or to the inner side of the lipid bilayer envelope of VNP. Upon biochemical and immunological analysis, their preventive potential was determined in a humanized mouse model of mugwort pollen allergy.
Results: Viruslike nanoparticles expressing shielded version of Art v 1, in contrast to those expressing surfaceexposed Art v 1, were hypoallergenic as they hardly induced degranulation of rat basophil leukemia cells sensitized with Art v 1specific mouse or human IgE. Both VNP versions induced proliferation and cytokine production of allergenspecific T cells in vitro. Upon intranasal application in mice, VNP expressing surfaceexposed but not shielded allergen induced allergenspecific antibodies, including IgE. Notably, preventive treatment with VNP expressing shielded allergenprotected mice from subsequent sensitization with mugwort pollen extract. Protection was associated with a Th1/Tregdominated cytokine response, increased Foxp3+ Treg numbers in lungs, and reduced lung resistance when compared to mice treated with empty particles.
Conclusion: Viruslike nanoparticles represent a novel and versatile platform for the in vivo delivery of allergens to selectively target T cells and prevent allergies without inducing allergic reactions or allergic sensitization.