Abstract: Viral vectors are promising tools for vaccination strategies and immunotherapies. However, CD8+ T cell responses against pathogen-derived epitopes are usually limited to dominant epitopes and antibody responses to recombinant encoded antigens (Ags) are mostly weak. We have previously demonstrated that the timing of viral Ag expression in infected professional Ag-presenting cells strongly shapes the epitope immunodominance hierarchy. T cells recognizing determinants derived from late viral proteins have a clear disadvantage to proliferate during secondary responses. In this work we evaluate the effect of overexpressing the recombinant Ag using the modified vaccinia virus early/late promoter H5 (mPH5). Although the Ag-expression from the natural promoter 7.5 (P7.5) and the mPH5 seemed similar, detailed analysis showed that mPH5 not only induces higher expression levels than P7.5 during early phase of infection, but also Ag turnover is enhanced. The strong overexpression during the early phase leads to broader CD8 T cell responses, while preserving the priming efficiency of stable Ags. Moreover, the increase in Ag-secretion favors the induction of strong antibody responses. Our findings provide the rationale to develop new strategies for fine-tuning the responses elicited by recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara by using selected promoters to improve the performance of this viral vector.
Abstract: Therapeutic HIV immunization is intended to induce new HIV-specific cellular immune responses and to reduce viral load, possibly permitting extended periods without antiretroviral drugs. A multigene, multi-subtype A, B, C HIV-DNA vaccine (HIVIS) has been used in clinical trials in both children and adults with the aim of improving and broadening the infected individuals’ immune responses. Despite the different country locations, different regimens and the necessary variations in assays performed, this is, to our knowledge, the first attempt to compare children’s and adults’ responses to a particular HIV vaccine. Ten vertically HIV-infected children aged 4–16 years were immunized during antiretroviral therapy (ART). Another ten children were blindly recruited as controls. Both groups continued their antiretroviral treatment during and after vaccinations. Twelve chronically HIV-infected adults were vaccinated, followed by repeated structured therapy interruptions (STI) of their antiretroviral treatment. The adult group included four controls, receiving placebo vaccinations. The HIV-DNA vaccine was generally well tolerated, and no serious adverse events were registered in any group. In the HIV-infected children, an increased specific immune response to Gag and RT proteins was detected by antigen-specific lymphoproliferation. Moreover, the frequency of HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell lymphocytes releasing perforin was significantly higher in the vaccinees than the controls. In the HIV-infected adults, increased CD8+ T-cell responses to Gag, RT and viral protease peptides were detected. No augmentation of HIV-specific lymphoproliferative responses were detected in adults after vaccination. In conclusion, the HIV-DNA vaccine can elicit new HIV-specific cellular immune responses, particularly to Gag antigens, in both HIV-infected children and adults. Vaccinated children mounted transient new HIV-specific immune responses, including both CD4+ T-cell lymphoproliferation and late CD8+ T-cell responses. In the adult cohort, primarily CD8+ T-cell responses related to MHC class I alleles were noted. However, no clinical benefits with respect to viral load reduction were ascribable to the vaccinations alone. No severe adverse effects related to the vaccine were found in either cohort, and no virological failures or drug resistances were detected.
Abstract: Synthetic tumor vaccines have been proven to be promising for cancer immunotherapy. However, the limitation of the specificity and efficiency of the synthetic tumor vaccines need further improvements. To overcome these difficulties, additional tumor-associated targets need to be identified, and optimized structural designs of vaccines need to be elaborated. In this review, we summarized the main strategies pursued in the design of synthetic tumor vaccines, such as multi-component, multivalency, antigen modification and other possible ways to improve the efficiency of synthetic tumor vaccines.
Abstract: While T cells recognise the complex of peptide and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) at the cell surface, changes in the dose and/or structure of the peptide component can have profound effects on T cell activation and function. In addition, the repertoire of T cells capable of responding to any given peptide is variable, but broader than a single clone. Consequently, peptide parameters that affect the interaction between T cells and peptide/MHC have been shown to select particular T cell clones for expansion and this impacts on clearance of disease. T cells with high functional avidity are selected on low doses of peptide, while low avidity T cells are favoured in high peptide concentrations. Altering the structure of the peptide ligand can also influence the selection and function of peptide-specific T cell clones. In this review, we will explore the evidence that the choice of peptide dose or the structure of the peptide are critical parameters in an effective vaccine designed to activate T cells.
Abstract: Conventional vaccine strategies have been highly efficacious for several decades in reducing mortality and morbidity due to infectious diseases. The bane of conventional vaccines, such as those that include whole organisms or large proteins, appear to be the inclusion of unnecessary antigenic load that, not only contributes little to the protective immune response, but complicates the situation by inducing allergenic and/or reactogenic responses. Peptide vaccines are an attractive alternative strategy that relies on usage of short peptide fragments to engineer the induction of highly targeted immune responses, consequently avoiding allergenic and/or reactogenic sequences. Conversely, peptide vaccines used in isolation are often weakly immunogenic and require particulate carriers for delivery and adjuvanting. In this article, we discuss the specific advantages and considerations in targeted induction of immune responses by peptide vaccines and progresses in the development of such vaccines against various diseases. Additionally, we also discuss the development of particulate carrier strategies and the inherent challenges with regard to safety when combining such technologies with peptide vaccines.
Abstract: The potent adjuvant activity of the novel adjuvant, poly[di(sodiumcarboxylatoethylphenoxy)phosphazene] (PCEP), with various antigens has been reported previously. However, very little is known about its mechanisms of action. We have recently reported that intramuscular injection of PCEP induces NLRP3, an inflammasome receptor gene, and inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β and IL-18, in mouse muscle tissue. Caspase-1 is required for the processing of pro-forms of IL-1β and IL-18 into mature forms and is a critical constituent of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Hence, in the present study, we investigated the role of caspase-1 in the secretion of IL-1β and IL-18 in PCEP-stimulated splenic dendritic cells (DCs). Caspase inhibitor YVAD-fmk-treated splenic DCs showed significantly reduced IL-1β and IL-18 secretion in response to PCEP stimulation. Further, PCEP had no effect on the expression of MHC class II or co-stimulatory molecules, CD86 and CD40, suggesting that PCEP does not induce DC maturation. However, PCEP directly activated B-cells to induce significant production of IgM. In addition, PCEP+ovalbumin (OVA) immunized mice showed significantly increased production of antigen-specific IFN-γ by CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells. We conclude that PCEP activates innate immunity, leading to increased antigen-specific T-cell responses.