Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is the only vaccine against TB and has limited protection efficacy, which wanes past adolescence. Multifunctional CD8+ T cells (IFN-γ+/TNF-α+/IL-2+) are associated with lower reactivation risk and enhanced control of active Mtb infection. Since boosting with BCG is contraindicated, booster vaccines that augment T cell immunity in the lungs of BCG-vaccinated individuals are urgently needed. We developed a vaccination strategy based on self-assembling peptide nanofibers presenting Mtb-specific CD8+ or CD4+ T cell epitopes that induce high frequency and antigen-specific effector memory T cells producing IFN-γ and IL-2. Intranasal immunization with peptide nanofibers was well tolerated in mice leading to increased antigen-specific CD8+ T cell population in the lungs. Co-assembled nanofibers of CD8+ T cell epitopes and toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) agonists induced a 8-fold expansion in multifunctional CD8+ T cell populations in the lungs of vaccinated mice. Aerosol challenge with Mtb in BCG-primed and nanofiber-boosted mice provided an additional 0.5-log CFU reduction in lung bacterial load and indicating enhanced protection compared to BCG alone. Together, these data suggest that heterologous prime-boost with BCG and peptide nanofiber vaccines induces cell mediated immunity in the lung, reduces bacterial burden, and is a potentially safer alternative for boosting BCG-primed immunity.
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