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Mol Immunol. 2011 Mar;48(6-7):810-7. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2010.12.022. Epub 2011 Jan 22.

Prophylactic vaccines mimic synthetic CpG oligonucleotides in their ability to modulate immune responses.

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Department of Tumor Immunology, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Synthetic oligonucleotide ligands that bind to toll-like receptors are known to modulate the immune response via the activation of antigen presenting cells, and were therefore proposed as a novel form of vaccine adjuvant. Clinical-grade they are, however, not readily available. Here, we show that commonly used prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases like measles, mumps and tuberculosis exhibit the same immune modulating behavior as synthetic CpG oligonucleotides in terms of their ability to stimulate IFN-α production and plasmacytoid dendritic cell maturation. Featuring the additional advantages of low-cost and proven safety, these vaccines could therefore be attractive alternatives to CpG oligonucleotides as adjuvants for immunotherapy. This previously undiscovered characteristic of prophylactic vaccines also sheds new light on the mechanisms by which they operate and is extremely interesting for vaccine development. Moreover, the finding that prophylactic vaccines trigger TLRs like synthetic oligonucleotides opens the possibility to predict the immune response of new vaccines.

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