Vaccine injection site matters: qualitative and quantitative defects in CD8 T cells primed as a function of proximity to the tumor in a murine glioma model

J Immunol. 2013 Jan 15;190(2):613-20. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1201557. Epub 2012 Dec 17.


Malignant gliomas are lethal brain tumors for which novel therapies are urgently needed. In animal models, vaccination with tumor-associated Ags efficiently primes T cells to clear gliomas. In clinical trials, cancer vaccines have been less effective at priming T cells and extending survival. Generalized immune suppression in the tumor draining lymph nodes has been documented in multiple cancers. However, a systematic analysis of how vaccination at various distances from the tumor (closest to farthest) has not been reported. We investigated how the injection site chosen for vaccination dictates CD8 T cell priming and survival in an OVA-transfected murine glioma model. Glioma-bearing mice were vaccinated with Poly:ICLC plus OVA protein in the neck, hind leg, or foreleg for drainage into the cervical, inguinal, or axillary lymph nodes, respectively. OVA-specific CD8 T cell number, TCR affinity, effector function, and infiltration into the brain decreased as the vaccination site approached the tumor. These effects were dependent on the presence of the tumor, because injection site did not appreciably affect CD8 T cell priming in tumor-free mice. Our data suggest the site of vaccination can greatly impact the effectiveness of cancer vaccines. Considering that previous and ongoing clinical trials have used a variety of injection sites, vaccination site is potentially a critical aspect of study design that is being overlooked.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Glioma / immunology*
  • Glioma / mortality
  • Glioma / therapy
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell