Induction of Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Responses Upon Subcutaneous Administration of a Subunit Vaccine Adjuvanted With an Emulsion Containing the Toll-Like Receptor 3 Ligand Poly(I:C)

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  • Signe Tandrup Schmidt
  • Gabriel Kristian Pedersen
  • Malene Aaby Neustrup
  • Karen Smith Korsholm
  • Rades, Thomas
  • Peter Andersen
  • Foged, Camilla
  • Dennis Christensen

There is an unmet medical need for new subunit vaccines that induce cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses to prevent infection with a number of pathogens. However, stimulation of CTL responses via clinically acceptable subcutaneous (s.c.) and intramuscular (i.m.) injection is challenging. Recently, we designed a liposomal adjuvant [cationic adjuvant formulation (CAF)09] composed of the cationic lipid dimethyldioctadecylammonium (DDA) bromide, a synthetic monomycoloyl glycerol analog and polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, which induce strong CTL responses to peptide and protein antigens after intraperitoneal administration. By contrast, CAF09 does not stimulate CTL responses upon s.c. or i.m. injection because the vaccine forms a depot that remains at the injection site. Hence, we engineered a series of nanoemulsions (CAF24a-c) based on the active components of CAF09. The oil phase consisted of biodegradable squalane, and the surface charge was varied systematically by replacing DDA with zwitterionic distearoylphosphoethanolamine. We hypothesized that the nanoemulsions drain to the lymph nodes to a larger extent than CAF09, upon s.c. co-administration with the model antigen chicken egg ovalbumin (OVA). This results in an increased dose fraction that reaches the draining lymph nodes (dLNs) and subsequently activates cross-presenting dendritic cells (DCs), which can prime CTL responses. Indeed, the nanoemulsions induced antigen-specific CD8+ T-cell responses, which were significantly higher than those stimulated by OVA adjuvanted with CAF09. We explain this by the observed rapid localization of CAF24a in the dLNs and the subsequent association with conventional DCs, which promotes induction of CTL responses. Uptake of CAF24a was not specific for DCs, because CAF24a was also detected with B cells and macrophages. No measurable dose fraction of CAF09 was detected in the dLNs within the study period, and CAF09 formed a depot at the site of injection. Importantly, s.c. vaccination with OVA adjuvanted with CAF24a induced significant levels of specific lysis of antigen-pulsed splenocytes were induced after, which was not observed for OVA adjuvanted with CAF09. Thus, CAF24a is a promising adjuvant for induction of CTL responses upon s.c. and i.m. immunization, and it offers interesting perspectives for the design of vaccines against pathogens for which CTL responses are required to prevent infection.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018

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