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Immunology. 2001 Mar;102(3):344-51.

Immunization onto bare skin with heat-labile enterotoxin of Escherichia coli enhances immune responses to coadministered protein and peptide antigens and protects mice against lethal toxin challenge.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS, Strasbourg, France.


In this study, the potential of the bare skin as a non-invasive route for vaccination was examined. Following application of heat-labile enterotoxin (LT) of Escherichia coli onto bare skin of BALB/c mice, strong serum anti-LT antibody responses were observed, and mucosal immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgG antibodies were measured in vagina washes. In addition, LT enhanced the serum and mucosal antibody and proliferative T-cell responses to the model protein antigen beta-galactosidase (beta-gal) when coadministered onto bare skin, highlighting its potential to exert an adjuvant effect. When a peptide representing a T-helper epitope (aa 307-319) from the haemagglutinin of influenza virus was applied onto bare skin with LT or cholera toxin (CT), it primed effectively peptide- and virus-specific T cells, as measured in vitro by the interleukin-2 (IL-2) secretion assay. LT was shown to be as immunogenic as CT. Binding activity to GM1 gangliosides was essential for effective induction of anti-CT serum and mucosal antibody responses. Finally, mice immunized onto bare skin with LT were protected against intraperitoneal challenge with a lethal dose of the homologous toxin. These findings give further support to a growing body of evidence on the potential of skin as a non-invasive route for vaccine delivery. This immunization strategy might be advantageous for vaccination programmes in Third World countries, because administration by this route is simple, painless and economical.

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