This study investigated the site of release of a model vaccine antigen from plant cells and the corresponding induced immune response. Three plant tissues (leaf, fruit and hairy root) and two formulations (aqueous and lipid) were compared in two mouse trials. A developed technique that enabled detection of antigen release by plant cells determined that antigen release occurred at early sites of the gastrointestinal tract when delivered in leaf material and at later sites when delivered in hairy roots. Lipid formulations delayed antigen release from all plant materials tested. While encapsulation in the plant cell provided some protection of the antigen in the gastrointestinal tract and influenced antigen release, formulation medium was also an important consideration with regard to vaccine delivery and immunogenicity. Systemic immune responses induced from the orally delivered vaccine benefited from late release of antigen in the mouse gastrointestinal tract. The influences to the mucosal immune response induced by these vaccines were too complex to be determined by studies performed here with no clear trend regarding plant tissue site of release or formulation medium. Expression and delivery of the model antigen in plant material prepared in an aqueous formulation provided the optimal systemic and mucosal, antigen-specific immune responses.
Keywords: Gastrointestinal delivery, plant-made vaccine, antigen release, vaccine formulation, oral delivery, antigen release and uptake, delivery formulation
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