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J Clin Invest. 2001 Aug;108(3):415-23.

Conjugation of a self-antigen to papillomavirus-like particles allows for efficient induction of protective autoantibodies.

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Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4040, USA.


High avidity and long-lasting autoantibodies to a self-polypeptide (TNF-alpha) were generated after parenteral vaccination of mice with low doses of virus-like particle-based (VLP-based) vaccines that were constructed by linking mouse TNF-alpha peptides to the surface of papillomavirus VLPs. High-titer autoantibodies were induced with or without coadministration of potent conventional adjuvants, but were enhanced by coadministration of CFA. Compared with immunization with the fusion protein alone, attachment to VLPs increased autoantibody titers 1,000-fold. A comparison of Ab responses against the self (TNF-alpha) and foreign components of the fusion protein showed that VLP conjugation abrogated the ability of the humoral immune system to distinguish between self and foreign. Similar levels of IgM were detected to self and foreign epitopes regardless of the assembly state of the antigen, suggesting that conjugation of self-peptides to VLPs promotes survival or expansion of mature autoreactive B cells. In a mouse model, vaccination with conjugated particles inhibited development of type II collagen-induced arthritis. Together, these results suggest a potentially flexible method to efficiently generate autoantibodies against specific self-proteins that mediate arthritis and other diseases.

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