Vaxfectin adjuvant improves antibody responses of juvenile rhesus macaques to a DNA vaccine encoding the measles virus hemagglutinin and fusion proteins

J Virol. 2013 Jun;87(12):6560-8. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00635-13. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


DNA vaccines formulated with the cationic lipid-based adjuvant Vaxfectin induce protective immunity in macaques after intradermal (i.d.) or intramuscular (i.m.) delivery of 0.5 to 1 mg of codon-optimized DNA encoding the hemagglutinin (H) and fusion (F) proteins of measles virus (MeV). To characterize the effect of Vaxfectin at lower doses of H+F DNA, rhesus macaques were vaccinated twice with 20 μg of DNA plus Vaxfectin i.d., 100 μg of DNA plus Vaxfectin i.d., 100 μg of DNA plus Vaxfectin i.m. or 100 μg of DNA plus phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) i.m. using a needleless Biojector device. The levels of neutralizing (P = 0.036) and binding (P = 0.0001) antibodies were higher after 20 or 100 μg of DNA plus Vaxfectin than after 100 μg of DNA plus PBS. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing T cells were induced more rapidly than antibody, but were not improved with Vaxfectin. At 18 months after vaccination, monkeys were challenged with wild-type MeV. None developed rash or viremia, but all showed evidence of infection. Antibody levels increased, and IFN-γ- and interleukin-17-producing T cells, including cells specific for the nucleoprotein absent from the vaccine, were induced. At 3 months after challenge, MeV RNA was detected in the leukocytes of two monkeys. The levels of antibody peaked 2 to 4 weeks after challenge and then declined in vaccinated animals reflecting low numbers of bone marrow-resident plasma cells. Therefore, Vaxfectin was dose sparing and substantially improved the antibody response to the H+F DNA vaccine. This immune response led to protection from disease (rash/viremia) but not from infection. Antibody responses after challenge were more transient in vaccinated animals than in an unvaccinated animal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / genetics
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis
  • Macaca mulatta / immunology*
  • Measles / immunology
  • Measles / prevention & control
  • Measles / virology
  • Measles Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Measles Vaccine / genetics
  • Measles Vaccine / immunology*
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / administration & dosage
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, DNA / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, DNA / genetics
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology*
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / immunology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral
  • Interleukin-17
  • Measles Vaccine
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • Viral Fusion Proteins
  • hemagglutinin protein G, measles virus
  • vaxfectin
  • Interferon-gamma