Cationic liposomes as adjuvants for subunit protein vaccines: their role in the depot effect and antigen processing by APCs

Malou Henriksen-Lacey, D Christensen, EM Agger, P Andersen, Andrew Devitt, Yvonne Perrie

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction: The requirement of adjuvants in subunit protein vaccination is well known yet their mechanisms of action remain elusive. Of the numerous mechanisms suggested, cationic liposomes appear to fulfil at least three: the antigen depot effect, the delivery of antigen to antigen presenting cells (APCs) and finally the danger signal. We have investigated the role of antigen depot effect with the use of dual radiolabelling whereby adjuvant and antigen presence in tissues can be quantified. In our studies a range of cationic liposomes and different antigens were studied to determine the importance of physical properties such as liposome surface charge, antigen association and inherent lipid immunogenicity. More recently we have investigated the role of liposome size with the cationic liposome formulation DDA:TDB, composed of the cationic lipid dimethyldioctadecylammonium (DDA) and the synthetic mycobacterial glycolipid trehalose 6,6’-dibehenate (TDB). Vesicle size is a frequently investigated parameter which is known to result in different routes of endocytosis. It has been postulated that targeting different routes leads to different intracellular signaling pathway activation and it is certainly true that numerous studies have shown vesicle size to have an effect on the resulting immune responses (e.g. Th1 vs. Th2). Aim: To determine the effect of cationic liposome size on the biodistribution of adjuvant and antigen, the ensuing humoral and cell-mediated immune responses and the uptake and activation of antigen by APCs including macrophages and dendritic cells. Methods: DDA:TDB liposomes were made to three different sizes (~ 0.2, 0.5 and 2 µm) followed by the addition of tuberculosis antigen Ag85B-ESAT-6 therefore resulting in surface adsorption. Liposome formulations were injected into Balb/c or C57Bl/6 mice via the intramuscular route. The biodistribution of the liposome formulations was followed using dual radiolabelling. Tissues including muscle from the site of injection and local draining lymph nodes were removed and liposome and antigen presence quantified. Mice were also immunized with the different vaccine formulations and cytokine production (from Ag85B-ESAT-6 restimulated splenocytes) and antibody presence in blood assayed. Furthermore, splenocyte proliferation after restimulating with Ag85B-ESAT-6 was measured. Finally, APCs were compared for their ability to endocytose vaccine formulations and the effect this had on the maturation status of the cell populations was compared. Flow cytometry and fluorescence labelling was used to investigate maturation marker up-regulation and efficacy of phagocytosis. Results: Our results show that for an efficient Ag85B-ESAT-6 antigen depot at the injection site, liposomes composed of DDA and TDB are required. There is no significant change in the presence of liposome or antigen at 6hrs or 24hrs p.i, nor does liposome size have an effect. Approximately 0.05% of the injected liposome dose is detected in the local draining lymph node 24hrs p.i however protein presence is low (<0.005% dose). Preliminary in vitro data shows liposome and antigen endocytosis by macrophages; further studies on this will be presented in addition to the results of the immunisation study.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Event11th International Symposium on Dendritic Cells in fundamental and Clinical Immunology - Lugano, Switzerland
Duration: 26 Sep 201030 Sep 2010


Conference11th International Symposium on Dendritic Cells in fundamental and Clinical Immunology

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