Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3), a small single-stranded RNA virus, belongs to the Picornaviridae family. Its infection is the most common cause of myocarditis, with no vaccine available. Gastrointestinal mucosa is the major entry port for CVB3; therefore, the induction of local immunity in mucosal tissues may help control initial viral infections and alleviate subsequent myocardial injury. Here we evaluated the ability of high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) encapsulated in chitosan particles to enhance the mucosal immune responses induced by the CVB3-specific mucosal DNA vaccine chitosan-pVP1. Mice were intranasally coimmunized with 4 doses of chitosan-pHMGB1 and chitosan-pVP1 plasmids, at 2-week intervals, and were challenged with CVB3 4 weeks after the last immunization. Compared with chitosan-pVP1 immunization alone, coimmunization with chitosan-pHMGB1 significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced CVB3-specific fecal secretory IgA levels and promoted mucosal T cell immune responses. In accordance, reduced severity of myocarditis was observed in coimmunized mice, as evidenced by significantly (P < 0.05) reduced viral loads, decreased myocardial injury, and increased survival rates. Flow cytometric analysis indicated that HMGB1 enhanced dendritic cell (DC) recruitment to mesenteric lymph nodes and promoted DC maturation, which might partly account for its mucosal adjuvant effect. This strategy may represent a promising approach to candidate vaccines against CVB3-induced myocarditis.
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