Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18 (Suppl. 5): 117–122 The female genital mucosa constitutes the major port of entry of sexually transmitted infections. Most genital microbial pathogens represent an enormous challenge for developing vaccines that can induce genital immunity that will prevent their transmission. It is now established that long‐lasting protective immunity at mucosal surfaces has to involve local B‐cell and T‐cell effectors as well as local memory cells. Mucosal immunization constitutes an attractive way to generate systemic and genital B‐cell and T‐cell immune responses that can control early infection by sexually transmitted pathogens. Nevertheless, no mucosal vaccines against sexually transmitted infections are approved for human use. The mucosa‐associated immune system is highly compartmentalized and the selection of any particular route or combinations of routes of immunization is critical when defining vaccine strategies against genital infections. Furthermore, mucosal surfaces are complex immunocompetent tissues that comprise antigen‐presenting cells and also innate immune effectors and non‐immune cells that can act as ‘natural adjuvants’ or negative immune modulators. The functions of these cells have to be taken into account when designing tissue‐specific antigen‐delivery systems and adjuvants. Here, we will discuss data that compare different mucosal routes of immunization to generate B‐cell and T‐cell responses in the genital tract, with a special emphasis on the newly described sublingual route of immunization. We will also summarize data on the understanding of the effector and induction mechanisms of genital immunity that may influence the development of vaccine strategies against genital infections.
Clinical Microbiology and Infection – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2012
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