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Cancer Res. 2014 Mar 15;74(6):1789-800. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-2729. Epub 2014 Jan 21.

Alarmin IL-33 acts as an immunoadjuvant to enhance antigen-specific tumor immunity.

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Authors' Affiliations: Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Blue Bell, Pennsylvania; and Korea Food and Drug Administration, Osong-eup, Cheongwon-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do, Korea.


Studies of interleukin (IL)-33 reveal a number of pleiotropic properties. Here, we report that IL-33 has immunoadjuvant effects in a human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated model for cancer immunotherapy where cell-mediated immunity is critical for protection. Two biologically active isoforms of IL-33 exist that are full-length or mature, but the ability of either isoform to function as a vaccine adjuvant that influences CD4 T helper 1 or CD8 T-cell immune responses is not defined. We showed that both IL-33 isoforms are capable of enhancing potent antigen-specific effector and memory T-cell immunity in vivo in a DNA vaccine setting. In addition, although both IL-33 isoforms drove robust IFN-γ responses, neither elevated secretion of IL-4 or immunoglobulin E levels. Further, both isoforms augmented vaccine-induced antigen-specific polyfunctional CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell responses, with a large proportion of CD8(+) T cells undergoing plurifunctional cytolytic degranulation. Therapeutic studies indicated that vaccination with either IL-33 isoform in conjunction with an HPV DNA vaccine caused rapid and complete regressions in vivo. Moreover, IL-33 could expand the magnitude of antigen-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses and elicit effector-memory CD8(+) T cells. Taken together, our results support the development of these IL-33 isoforms as immunoadjuvants in vaccinations against pathogens, including in the context of antitumor immunotherapy.

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