Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization -
International Vaccine Centre

Intrauterine immunization – a novel approach to induce broad mucosal immunity

Project Team: Heather L. WilsonVolker Gerdts, J. A. Pasternak, G. Hamonic, S. Hon Ng, M. Dyck

Mucosal vaccine development is difficult. The immune system is primed to respond with tolerance instead of immunity to antigens encountered at the mucosa. An immune response is not generated unless the antigen or pathogen breaches the mucosal barrier and enters the underlying tissue. Delivery of mucosal vaccines is also complicated by the need to restrain animals to administer the vaccine at oral, nasal or vaginal sites.

While the lower reproductive tract contains commensal bacteria and maintains a degree of tolerance, the upper uterus is maintained in a nearly sterile and immunogenic state. When the uterus is exposed to potential contamination, such as during insemination, there is a natural inflammatory immune response. This is brought about by the combined effects of ovarian hormones, seminar plasma, sperm and bacteria which draws microphages, neutrophils, and other immune cells into the uterus. The goal of our research is to evaluate intrauterine immunization for the induction of broad mucosal immunity.