The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of chitosanon the immune response induced by a DNA vaccine based on the ptfA gene of avian Pasteurella multocida. Naked DNA vaccine was packed with chitosanmolecules, resulting in a chitosannanoparticle DNA vaccine. The encapsulation efficiency, shape, size and resistance to DNA degradation were determined. The vaccine was administered to chickens and serum antibody, interferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) concentrations were determined and lymphocyte proliferation assays were performed. After challenge with virulent avian P. multocida, protective efficacy was evaluated.
The encapsulation efficiency of the chitosan nanoparticle DNA vaccine was 95.3%. The particle size was approximately 200 nm and close to spherical in shape and it could effectively resist degradation by DNases. Following vaccination, serum antibodies, stimulation index (SI) value and concentrations of IFN-γ and IL-2 in chickens vaccinated with the chitosan nanoparticle DNA vaccine were significantly higher than those that were vaccinated with the naked DNA vaccine (P-values are 0.026, 0.045, 0.039 and 0.024, respectively). However, the concentrations of IL-4 in the two DNA vaccines group were no significant difference (P = 0.157). The protective efficacy rate provided by naked DNA vaccine, chitosan nanoparticle DNA vaccine and the attenuated live vaccine were 56%, 68% and 88%, respectively. The results indicated that chitosan was able to enhance the immune response to a naked DNA vaccine based on the ptfA gene of P. multocida.