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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51718. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051718. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

The adjuvant double mutant Escherichia coli heat labile toxin enhances IL-17A production in human T cells specific for bacterial vaccine antigens.

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Gothenburg University Vaccine Research Institute (GUVAX), Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.


The strong adjuvant activity and low enterotoxicity of the novel mucosal adjuvant double mutant Escherichia coli heat labile toxin, LT(R192G/L211A) or dmLT, demonstrated in mice, makes this molecule a promising adjuvant candidate. However, little is known about the mechanisms responsible for the adjuvant effect of dmLT or whether dmLT also has an adjuvant function in humans. We investigated the effect of DMLT on human T Cell responses to different bacterial vaccine antigens: the mycobacterial purified protein derivative (PPD) antigen, tested in individuals previously vaccinated with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, the LT binding subunit (LTB), evaluated in subjects immunised with oral inactivated whole cell vaccines against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus pneumoniae whole cell vaccine antigens, tested in subjects naturally exposed to pneumococci. We found that dmLT enhanced the production of IL-17A by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in response to all antigens tested. dmLT had comparable effects on IL-17A responses to PPD as the single mutant LT(R192G) adjuvant, which has demonstrated clinical adjuvant activity in humans. Neutralisation of IL-1β and IL-23, but not IL-6, suppressed the IL-17A-enhancing effect of dmLT. Furthermore, CD4+ T cells produced higher levels of IL-17A when stimulated with monocytes pulsed with PPD and dmLT compared to PPD alone, supporting an important role of antigen presenting cells in enhancing IL-17A responses. dmLT also potentiated mitogen-induced IL-17A and IL-13 production. However, dmLT had variable influences on IFN-γ responses to the different stimuli tested.Our demonstration of a potent ability of dmLT to enhance human Th17 type T cell responses to bacterial vaccine antigens encourages further evaluation of the adjuvant function of dmLT in humans.

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