, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 125-136,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 23 Nov 2010

Low-dose oral immunization with lyophilized tissue of herbicide-resistant lettuce expressing hepatitis B surface antigen for prototype plant-derived vaccine tablet formulation


Efficient immunization against hepatitis B virus (HBV) and other pathogens with plant-based oral vaccines requires appropriate plant expressors and the optimization of vaccine compositions and administration protocols. Previous immunization studies were mainly based on a combination of the injection of a small surface antigen of HBV (S-HBsAg) and the feeding with raw tissue containing the antigen, supplemented with an adjuvant, and coming from plants conferring resistance to kanamycin. The objective of this study was to develop a prototype oral vaccine formula suitable for human immunization. Herbicide-resistant lettuce was engineered, stably expressing through progeny generation micrograms of S-HBsAg per g of fresh weight and formed into virus-like particles (VLPs). Lyophilized tissue containing a relatively low, 100-ng VLP-assembled antigen dose, administered only orally to mice with a long, 60-day interval between prime and boost immunizations and without exogenous adjuvant, elicited mucosal and systemic humoral anti-HBs responses at the nominally protective level. Lyophilized tissue was converted into tablets, which preserved S-HBsAg content for at least one year of room temperature storage. The results of the study provide indications on immunization methodology using a durable, efficacious, and convenient plant-derived prototype oral vaccine against hepatitis B.

Tomasz Pniewski and Józef Kapusta contributed equally to this work.