Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In


First Advisor

Waldschmidt, Thomas J.

First Committee Member

Legge, Kevin

Second Committee Member

Varga, Steven


Influenza A virus (IAV) infection is a serious respiratory disease associated with significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Annual vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection and its potentially severe complications; however, the vaccines currently offered have several drawbacks that limit its availability and protective efficacy. Influenza virus-like particles (VLPs), which lack viral genetic material and are non-infectious, represent a promising vaccine candidate. Previous reports have shown VLPs are more immunogenic than subunit or recombinant proteins, and confer protection upon lethal challenge. A critical component of this protection is mediated by influenza HA-specific neutralizing Abs produced by memory B cells and plasma cells, the cellular products of the germinal center (GC) reaction. While preliminary studies have examined the humoral immune response to VLP vaccination, the current study is the first to characterize the GC response in secondary and tertiary lymphoid tissues. Mice were vaccinated with influenza VLPs using three immunization routes: subcutaneous (s.c.), intramuscular (i.m.), and intranasal (i.n.) and the GC response was assessed over time. Robust GC reactions were induced in the dLNs regardless of vaccination route, though the largest response was generated with VLPs s.c. The pattern of isotype expression was remarkably similar between routes, with IgM+ and IgG2+ B cells representing the majority of the GC B cell population. Mucosal immune responses in the upper (nasal) and lower (lung) airway were measured in mice vaccinated i.n. Marked GC reactions were induced in the nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT), while the pulmonary response was relatively modest and short-lived compared to infection with IAV. Within the GC B cell population, IgM+ and IgG2+ B cells made up the majority, similar to the dLN response. Importantly, the pattern of isotype expression induced by VLPs mimicked the response induced by natural IAV infection, and suggests that VLPs contain the necessary innate immune agonists to induce a TH1 biased response.


B cells, Germinal Centers, iBALT, Influenza, vaccine, VLPs


xi, 127 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 119-127).


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Copyright 2013 Lea Nichole Goldman

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Pathology Commons