Margherita A. C. Pomatto, Chiara Gai, Federica Negro, Lucia Massari, Maria Chiara Deregibus, Cristina Grange, Francesco Giuseppe De Rosa and Giovanni Camussi
Plant-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) may represent a platform for the delivery of RNA-based vaccines, exploiting their natural membrane envelope to protect and deliver nucleic acids. Here, EVs extracted from orange (Citrus sinensis) juice (oEVs) were investigated as carriers for oral and intranasal SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine. oEVs were efficiently loaded with different mRNA molecules (coding N, subunit 1 and full S proteins) and the mRNA was protected from degrading stress (including RNase and simulated gastric fluid), delivered to target cells and translated into protein. APC cells stimulated with oEVs loaded with mRNAs induced T lymphocyte activation in vitro. The immunization of mice with oEVs loaded with S1 mRNA via different routes of administration including intramuscular, oral and intranasal stimulated a humoral immune response with production of specific IgM and IgG blocking antibodies and a T cell immune response, as suggested by IFN-γ production by spleen lymphocytes stimulated with S peptide. Oral and intranasal administration
also triggered the production of specific IgA, the mucosal barrier in the adaptive immune response. In conclusion, plant-derived EVs represent a useful platform for mRNA-based vaccines administered not only parentally but also orally and intranasally.