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Eur J Immunol. 2003 Jun;33(6):1548-56.

Efficient mucosal delivery of the HIV-1 Tat protein using the synthetic lipopeptide MALP-2 as adjuvant.

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Vaccine Research Group, Division of Microbiology, GBF-German Research Center for Biotechnology, Braunschweig, Germany.


A major requirement for HIV/AIDS research is the development of a mucosal vaccine that stimulates humoral and cell-mediated immune responses at systemic and mucosal levels, thereby blocking virus replication at the entry port. Thus, a vaccine prototype based on biologically active HIV-1 Tat protein as antigen and the synthetic lipopeptide, macrophage-activating lipopeptide-2 (MALP-2), asa mucosal adjuvant was developed. Intranasal administration to mice stimulated systemic and mucosal anti-Tat antibody responses, and Tat-specific T cell responses, that were more efficient than those observed after i.p. immunization with Tat plus incomplete Freund's adjuvant. Major linear B cell epitopes mapped within aa 1-20 and 46-60, whereas T cell epitopes were identified within aa 36-50 and 56-70. These epitopes have also been described in vaccinated primates and in HIV-1-infected individuals with better prognosis. Analysis of the anti-Tat IgG isotypes in serum, and the cytokine profile of spleen cells indicated that a dominant Th1 helper response was stimulated by Tat plus MALP-2, as opposed to the Th2 response observed with Tat plus incomplete Freund's adjuvant. Tat-specific IFN-gamma-producing cells were significantly increased only in response to Tat plus MALP-2. These data suggest that Malp-2 may represent an optimal mucosal adjuvant for candidate HIV vaccines based on Tat alone or in combination with other HIV antigens.

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