Jingxuan Yan, Ruying Chen, Hong Zhang, James D. Bryers.

Macromol Biosci. 2019 Feb;19(2):e1800242. doi: 10.1002/mabi.201800242.


mRNA vaccines have proven to be more stable, effective, and specific than protein/peptide-based vaccines in stimulating both humoral and cellular immune response. However, mRNA’s fast degradation rate and low-transfection efficiency in vivo impede its potential in vaccination. Recent research in gene delivery has focused on nonviral vaccine carriers and either implantable or injectable delivery systems to improve transgene expression in vivo. Here, an injectable chitosan-alginate gel scaffold for the local delivery of mRNA vaccines is reported. Gel scaffold biodegradation rates and biocompatibility are quantified. Scaffold-mediated mRNA in vivo transgene expression as well as ovalbumin antigen specific cellular and humoral immune responses are evaluated in vivo. Luciferase reporter protein expression resulting from mRNA lipoplex-loaded gel scaffolds is five times higher than systemic injection. Compared to systemic injections of naked mRNA or mRNA:lipoplexes, elevated levels of T cell proliferation and IFN-? secretion are seen with in vivo scaffold-mediated mRNA lipoplex delivery. Furthermore, a humoral response (ovalbumin antigen specific IgG levels) is observed as early as week 1 for scaffold-mediated mRNA lipoplex delivery, while protein-based immunization did not elicit IgG production until 2 weeks post-injection. Results suggest that injectable scaffold mRNA vaccine delivery maybe a viable alternative to traditional nucleic acid immunization methods.