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J Exp Med. 2004 Mar 15;199(6):775-84. Epub 2004 Mar 8.

Combined TLR and CD40 triggering induces potent CD8+ T cell expansion with variable dependence on type I IFN.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA.


Toll-like receptors are important in the activation of innate immunity, and CD40 is a molecule critical for many T and B cell responses. Whereas agonists for either pathway have been used as vaccine adjuvants, we show that a combination of Toll-like receptor (TLR)7 and CD40 agonists synergize to stimulate CD8+ T cell responses 10-20-fold greater than the use of either agonist alone. Antigen-specific CD8+ T cells elicited from combination CD40/TLR7 treatment demonstrated both lytic activities and interferon (IFN)gamma production and an enhanced secondary response to antigenic challenge. Agonists for TLRs 2/6, 3, 4, and 9 also synergized with CD40 stimulation, demonstrating that synergy with the CD40 pathway is a property of TLR-derived stimuli in general. The CD8+ T cell expansion induced by CD40/TLR7 triggering was independent of CD4+ T cells, IFNgamma, and IL-12 but dependent on B7-mediated costimulation and surprisingly on type I IFN. These studies provide the rational basis for the use of TLR and CD40 agonists together as essential adjuvants to optimize vaccines designed to elicit protective or therapeutic immunity.

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