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. 2017 May;162(5):1251-1260.
doi: 10.1007/s00705-017-3230-7. Epub 2017 Jan 24.

Adjuvant Use of the NKT Cell Agonist Alpha-Galactosylceramide Leads to Enhancement of M2-based DNA Vaccine Immunogenicity and Protective Immunity Against Influenza A Virus

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Adjuvant Use of the NKT Cell Agonist Alpha-Galactosylceramide Leads to Enhancement of M2-based DNA Vaccine Immunogenicity and Protective Immunity Against Influenza A Virus

Fatemeh Fotouhi et al. Arch Virol. .

Abstract

DNA vaccines can induce both humoral and cellular immune responses in animals. However, DNA vaccines suffer from limited vaccine potency due to low immunogenicity. Therefore, different strategies are required for significant improvement of DNA vaccine efficacy such as inclusion of strong adjuvants. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of using α-Galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) as an adjuvant to enhance the immune responses induced by a DNA vaccine, encoding influenza A virus matrix protein 2 (M2), against influenza A challenge. BALB/c mice were immunized three times by intramuscular inoculations of DNA vaccine encoding M2 alone or in combination with α-GalCer adjuvant. The adjuvant effect was evaluated by measuring the serum antibody titers, using ELISA, lymphocyte proliferation, using MTT assay as well as Th1 (IFN-γ and IL-12) and Th2 (IL-4) cytokines. The results showed that co-administration of α-GalCer with the vaccine exert protective effects by influencing the magnitude and quality of humoral responses. Adjuvanted DNA-vaccinated mice revealed a higher IgG titer and IgG2a/IgG1 ratio than mice vaccinated with DNA alone. Furthermore, analysis of M2-specific responses revealed that the DNA vaccine triggered predominately IgG1 and IL-4 responses indicating a Th2 bias. The data also showed that α-GalCer is a potent adjuvant for activation of cellular immune responses to DNA vaccine. This was supported by a higher IgG2a/IgG1 ratio, significantly increased IFN-γ and IL-4 production and CD4+ proliferation, compared with mice receiving the DNA vaccine alone, suggesting a mixed Th1/Th2-type cellular immune response with a Th1 bias. The findings of this study indicate that α-GalCer has the potential to be used as a potent adjuvant for a DNA vaccine encoding M2, since it enhances humoral and cellular immune response and improves immune protection against influenza challenge in mice.

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