The ability of vaccines to induce T cell responses is crucial for preventing diseases caused by viruses. Nanoparticles (NPs) are considered to be efficient tools for the initiation of potent immune responses. Calcium phosphate (CaP) NPs are a class of biodegradable nanocarriers that are able to deliver immune activating molecules across physiological barriers. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess whether Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligand and viral antigen functionalized CaP NPs are capable of inducing efficient maturation of human antigen presenting cells (APC). To achieve this, we generated primary human dendritic cells (DCs) and stimulated them with CpG or poly(I:C) functionalized CaP NPs. DCs were profoundly stronger when activated upon NP stimulation compared to treatment with soluble TLR ligands. This is indicated by increased levels of costimulatory molecules and the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Consequently, coculture of NP-stimulated APCs with CD8+ T cells resulted in a significant expansion of virus-specific T cells. In summary, our data suggest that functionalized CaP NPs are a suitable tool for activating human virus-specific CD8+ T cells and may represent an excellent vaccine delivery system.
Keywords: cytotoxic T cells; immune modulation; immunotherapy; nanoparticles; vaccine.