Adjuvanticity of plasmid DNA encoding cytokines fused to immunoglobulin Fc domains

Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Sep 15;12(18):5511-9. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-0979.


Purpose: Plasmid DNAs encoding cytokines enhance immune responses to vaccination in models of infectious diseases and cancer. We compared DNA adjuvants for their ability to enhance immunity against a poorly immunogenic self-antigen expressed by cancer.

Experimental design: DNAs encoding cytokines that affect T cells [interleukin (IL)-2, IL-12, IL-15, IL-18, IL-21, and the chemokine CCL21] and antigen-presenting cells [granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)] were compared in mouse models as adjuvants to enhance CD8+ T-cell responses and tumor immunity. A DNA vaccine against a self-antigen, gp100, expressed by melanoma was used in combination with DNA encoding cytokines and cytokines fused to the Fc domain of mouse IgG1 (Ig).

Results: We found that (a) cytokine DNAs generally increased CD8+ T-cell responses against gp100; (b) ligation to Fc domains further enhanced T-cell responses; (c) adjuvant effects were sensitive to timing of DNA injection; (d) the most efficacious individual adjuvants for improving tumor-free survival were IL-12/Ig, IL-15/Ig, IL-21/Ig, GM-CSF/Ig, and CCL21; and (e) combinations of IL-2/Ig+IL-12/Ig, IL-2/Ig+IL-15/Ig, IL-12/Ig+IL-15/Ig, and IL-12/Ig+IL-21/Ig were most active; and (f) increased adjuvanticity of cytokine/Ig fusion DNAs was not related to higher tissue levels or greater stability.

Conclusions: These observations support the potential of cytokine DNA adjuvants for immunization against self-antigens expressed by cancer, the importance of timing, and the enhancement of immune responses by Fc domains through mechanisms unrelated to increased half-life.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Reaction / immunology
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / chemistry
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Hypopigmentation / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments / genetics
  • Immunotherapy, Active / adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy, Active / methods*
  • Immunotherapy, Active / statistics & numerical data
  • Interleukin-12 / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Plasmids / chemistry
  • Plasmids / immunology
  • Survival Analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Time Factors
  • Vaccines, DNA / adverse effects
  • Vaccines, DNA / chemistry
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology
  • Vaccines, DNA / therapeutic use*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays / methods


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Autoantigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • Interleukin-12