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Vaccine. 2001 Oct 12;20(1-2):42-8.

Topical application of HIV DNA vaccine with cytokine-expression plasmids induces strong antigen-specific immune responses.

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Department of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, Yokohama City University, 236-0004, Yokohama, Japan.


The topical application of DNA vaccine to the skin is a useful method of immunization because of its simplicity, painlessness and economy. But the immune responses that it elicits are relatively low. In this study, we administered human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) DNA vaccine with cytokine-expressing plasmids to the skin of mice by a new topical application technique involving prior elimination of keratinocytes using fast-acting adhesive. Our results revealed that the topical application of HIV-1 DNA vaccine induced high levels of both humoral and cell-mediated immune activity against HIV-1 envelope antigen. Co-administration of the DNA vaccine with cytokine expression plasmids of IL-12 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) by this new method raised the levels of both the HIV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response and delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) and facilitated the induction of substantial immune responses by DNA vaccine. Skin biopsy sections, thus, immunized showed significant increases of S-100 protein-positive dendritic cells (DCs). These results suggest that the topical application method described here is an efficient route of DNA vaccine administration and that the immune response may be induced by DNA plasmids taken in by DCs, Langerhans cells (LCs), or others such as antigen-presenting cells. This new topical application is likely to be of benefit in clinical use.

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