Liposomal formulations of synthetic MUC1 peptides: effects of encapsulation versus surface display of peptides on immune responses

Bioconjug Chem. Jul-Aug 1998;9(4):451-8. doi: 10.1021/bc970183n.


Synthetic human MUC1 peptides are important candidates for therapeutic cancer vaccines. To explore whether a human MUC1 peptide BP25 (STAPPAHGVTSAPDTRPAPGSTAPP) can be rendered immunogenic by incorporation in liposomes, the effects of physical association of the peptide with liposomes on immune responses were investigated. Lipid conjugated and nonconjugated MUC1 peptides were incorporated in liposomes with a composition of distearoylphosphatidylcholine/cholesterol/dimyristoylphosphatidylglyc erol (3:1:0.25, molar ratio) containing monophosphoryl lipid A (1% w/w of the total lipids). Liposomes were characterized for peptide retention by HPLC and for surface peptide display of MUC1 epitopes by flow cytometry. C57BL/6 mice were immunized with lipopeptide alone, peptide mixed with peptide-free liposomes, and peptide associated with liposomes in entrapped or surface-exposed forms. T cell proliferative responses, cytokine patterns, and antibody isotypes were studied. Results showed that immune responses were profoundly influenced by the liposome formulations. Physically associated, either encapsulated or surface-exposed, peptide liposomes elicited strong antigen-specific T cell responses, but not lipopeptide alone or peptide mixed with peptide-free liposomes. Analysis of the cytokines secreted by the proliferating T cells showed a high level of IFN-gamma and undetectable levels of IL-4, indicating a T helper type 1 response. Thus, physical association of the peptide with liposomes was required for T cell proliferative responses, but the mode of association was not critical. On the other hand, the nature of the association significantly affected humoral immune responses. Only the surface-exposed peptide liposomes induced MUC1-specific antibodies. A domination of anti-MUC1 IgG2b over IgG1 (94 versus 6%) was observed. Our results support the hypothesis that different immune pathways are stimulated by different liposome formulations. This study demonstrated that a liposome delivery system could be tailored to induce either a preferential cellular or humoral immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Drug Carriers
  • Epitopes / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liposomes
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mucin-1 / administration & dosage*
  • Mucin-1 / immunology
  • Mucin-1 / pharmacology*
  • Peptide Fragments / administration & dosage
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology
  • Surface Properties
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cytokines
  • Drug Carriers
  • Epitopes
  • Liposomes
  • Mucin-1
  • Peptide Fragments