Biocompatibility of intraperitoneally implanted TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofiber hydrogels for antigen delivery in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) vaccines

Lead PI: Sarah Turner

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Project Team: Deborah Bouchard, Kora Kukk, Inga Sidor, Michael Mason

Abstract: Disease outbreaks are a major impediment to aquaculture production, and vaccines are integral for disease management. Vaccines can be expensive, vary in effectiveness, and come with adjuvant-induced adverse effects, causing fish welfare issues and negative economic impacts. Three-dimensional biopolymer hydrogels are an appealing new technology for vaccine delivery in aquaculture, with the potential for controlled release of multiple immunomodulators and antigens simultaneously, action as local depots, and tunable surface properties. This research examined the intraperitoneal implantation of a cross-linked TEMPO cellulose nanofiber (TOCNF) hydrogel formulated with a Vibrio anguillarum bacterin in Atlantic salmon with macroscopic and microscopic monitoring to 600-degree days post-implantation. Results demonstrated a modified passive integrated transponder tagging (PITT) device allowed for implantation of the hydrogel. However, the Atlantic salmon implanted with TOCNF hydrogels exhibited a significant foreign body response (FBR) compared to sham-injected negative controls. The FBR was characterized by gross and microscopic external and visceral proliferative lesions, granulomas, adhesions, and fibrosis surrounding the hydrogel using Speilberg scoring of the peritoneum and histopathology of the body wall and coelom. Acutely, gross monitoring displayed rapid coagulation of blood in response to the implantation wound with development of fibrinous adhesions surrounding the hydrogel by 72 h post-implantation consistent with early stage FBR. While these results were undesirable for aquaculture vaccines, this work informs on the innate immune response to an implanted biopolymer hydrogel in Atlantic salmon and directs future research using cellulose nanomaterial formulations in Atlantic salmon for a new generation of aquaculture vaccine technology.