Background: Generation of robust cell-mediated immune responses at mucosal surfaces while reducing overall inflammation is a primary goal for vaccination. Here we report the use of a recombinant nanoparticle as a vaccine delivery platform against mucosal infections requiring T cell-mediated immunity for eradication. Methodology/Principal Findings: We encapsulated an immunogenic protein, the major outer membrane protein (MOMP) of Chlamydia muridarum, within hollow, vault nanocapsules (MOMP-vaults) that were engineered to bind IgG for enhanced immunity. Intranasal immunization (i.n) with MOMP-vaults induced anti-chlamydial immunity plus significantly attenuated bacterial burden following challenge infection. Vault immunization induced anti-chlamydial immune responses and inflammasome formation but did not activate toll-like receptors. Moreover, MOMP-vault immunization enhanced microbial eradication without the inflammation usually associated with adjuvants. Conclusions/Significance: Vault nanoparticles containing immunogenic proteins delivered to the respiratory tract by the i.n. route can act as "smart adjuvants" for inducing protective immunity at distant mucosal surfaces while avoiding destructive inflammation.
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