The use of DNA vaccines has become an attractive approach for generating antigen-specific cytotoxic CD8+ T lymphocytes (CTLs), which can mediate protective antitumor immunity. The potency of DNA vaccines encoding weakly immunogenic tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) can be improved by using an adjuvant injected together with checkpoint antibodies. In the current study, we evaluated whether the therapeutic effects of a DNA vaccine encoding human papilloma virus type 16 (HPV-16) E7 can be enhanced by combined application of an immune checkpoint blockade directed against the programmed death-1 (PD-1) pathway and secondary lymphoid tissue chemokine (SLC) also known as CCL21 adjuvant, in a mouse cervical cancer model. The therapeutic effects of the DNA vaccine in combination with CCL21 adjuvant plus PD-1 blockade was evaluated using a tumor growth curve. To further investigate the mechanism underlying the antitumor response, cytolytic and lymphocyte proliferation responses in splenocytes were measured using non-radioactive cytotoxicity and MTT assays, respectively. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and IL-10 expression in the tumor and the levels of IFN-γ and IL-4 in supernatants of spleno-lymphocyte cultures were measured using ELISA. The immune efficacy was evaluated by in vivo tumor regression assay. The results showed that vaccination with a DNA vaccine in combination with the CCL21 adjuvant plus PD-1 blockade greatly enhanced cytotoxic T lymphocyte production and lymphocyte proliferation rates and greatly inhibited tumor progression. Moreover, the vaccine in combination with adjuvant and blockade significantly reduced intratumoral VEGF, IL-10 and splenic IL-4 but induced the expression of splenic IFN-γ. This formulation could be an effective candidate for a vaccine against cervical cancers and merits further investigation.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2016
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