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Vaccine. 2012 May 9;30(22):3329-38. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.01.092. Epub 2012 Mar 17.

Repeated dose intramuscular injection of the CIMAvax-EGF vaccine in Sprague Dawley rats induces local and systemic toxicity.

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National Center for Laboratory Animals Breeding (CENPALAB), Habana, Cuba.


CIMAvax-EGF consists of a human recombinant epidermal growth factor (EGF), coupled to P64k, a recombinant carrier protein from N. meningitis, and Montanide ISA 51 as adjuvant. The vaccine immunization induces a specific antibody production, inhibiting the EGF/EGF-R interaction through EGF deprivation. The objective of this study was to assess the CIMAvax-EGF toxicity in Sprague Dawley rats after intramuscular administration of repeated doses (6 months) and at the same time to determine if rat is a relevant species for studying CIMAvax-EGF vaccine. Rats were randomly distributed into four groups: control, Montanide ISA 51, treated with 1× and 15× of human total dose of the antigen. Animals were immunized weekly during 9 weeks, plus 9 immunizations every 14 days. Rats were inspected daily for clinical signs. Body weight, food consumption, and rectal temperature were measured during the administration of doses. Blood samples were collected for hematological, serum biochemical determinations and EGF titles at the beginning, three months and at the end of experimentation. Gross necropsy and histological examination of tissues were performed on animals at the end of the assay. Vaccine provoked the apparition of antibodies against EGF in the rats, demonstrating rat species relevance in these studies. Body weight gain, food and water consumption were not affected. CIMAvax-EGF and Montanide ISA 51 produced local damage at the administration site, showing multiple cysts and granulomas. Both vaccine-treated groups showed neutrophil elevation, besides an AST increase probably related to the damage at the administration site. Rectal temperature was found to be significantly higher in 15× treated group after immunizations, probably induced by the inflammatory process at the injection site. In summary, the clinical pathology findings together with the body temperature results, appear to be caused by the inflammatory reaction at the administration site of the vaccine, mainly mediated by the oil-based adjuvant Montanide ISA 51, probably enhanced by the immunological properties of the antigen. This study showed evidences that intramuscular administration during 26 weeks of CIMAvax-EGF at doses up to 15× human total dose is well tolerated in rats and it has a clinical importance since this long lasting study in relevant species allows to treat cancer patients with tumors during long periods with relative weight safety margin.

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