Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.354, No.3, 641-649, 2007
HCV core protein immunization with Montanide/CpG elicits strong Th1/Th2 and long-lived CTL responses
An efficient vaccine against Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection requires induction of strong humoral and cellular responses against viral proteins. We evaluated the immunogenicity of HCV core protein (HCVcp), a prime vaccine candidate, formulated in various human compatible adjuvants. An Escherichia coli-expressed HCVcp, purified in native conditions was used for murine immunization in separate groups of: free HCVcp (Ag), Ag+C/IFA (Freunds), Ag+CpG, Ag+M720 (Montanide ISA 720), Ag+F127 (Pluronic acid) and cocktails of Ag+F127+CpG and Ag+M720+CpG. Mice immunized with M720(+CpG) developed the highest HCVcp-specific titers of total IgG, IgG1, 2a, 2b, and that of IFN-gamma and IL-4 cytokines compared to all other groups. HCVcp-specific-CTLs against relevant MHC class I peptides were detected only for Ag+M720+CpG, Ag+M720, and Ag+CpG groups and could be blocked by antimouse-CD8 antibodies. While CTLs were stable, only F127 formulated groups demonstrated detectable IgG antibodies one year post-immunization. Hence, HCVcp formulated in M720 (with a synergistic effect by inclusion of CpG) could induce balanced and strong Th1/Th2 responses with long-lived CD4(-)CD8(+) CTLs. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.