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J Control Release. 2018 Dec 10;291:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2018.10.002. Epub 2018 Oct 3.

Lipid conjugation of TLR7 agonist Resiquimod ensures co-delivery with the liposomal Cationic Adjuvant Formulation 01 (CAF01) but does not enhance immunopotentiation compared to non-conjugated Resiquimod+CAF01.

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School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.
Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, 161 Cathedral St, Glasgow G4 0RE, UK.
Department of Infectious Disease Immunology, Statens Serum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, 161 Cathedral St, Glasgow G4 0RE, UK. Electronic address:


Pattern recognition receptors, including the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), are important in the induction and activation of two critical arms of the host defence to pathogens and microorganisms: the rapid innate immune response (as characterised by the production of Th1 promoting cytokines and type 1 interferons) and the adaptive immune response. Through this activation, ligands and agonists of TLRs can enhance immunotherapeutic efficacy. Resiquimod is a small (water-soluble) agonist of the endosome-located Toll-like receptors 7 and 8 (TLR7/8). However due to its molecular attributes it rapidly distributes throughout the body after injection. To circumvent this, these TLR agonists can be incorporated within delivery systems, such as liposomes, to promote the co-delivery of both antigen and agonists to antigen presenting cells. In this present study, resiquimod has been chemically conjugated to a lipid to form a lipid-TLR7/8 agonist conjugate which can be incorporated within immunogenic cationic liposomes composed of dimethyldioctadecylammonium bromide (DDA) and the immunostimulatory glycolipid trehalose 6,6' - dibehenate (TDB). This DDA:TDB-TLR7/8 formulation offers similar vesicle characteristics to DDA:TDB (size and charge) and offers high retention of both resiquimod and the electrostatically adsorbed TB subunit antigen Ag85B-ESAT6-Rv2660c (H56). Following immunisation through the intramuscular (i.m.) route, these cationic DDA:TDB-TLR7/8 liposomes form a vaccine depot at the injection site. However, immunisation studies have shown that this biodistribution does not translate into notably increased antibody nor Th1 responses at the spleen and draining popliteal lymph node compared to DDA:TDB liposomes. This work demonstrates that the conjugation of TLR7/8 agonists to cationic liposomes can promote co-delivery but the immune responses stimulated do not merit the added complexity considerations of the formulation.


Biodistribution; Cationic liposomes; Resiquimod; TLR agonist; Tuberculosis; Vaccine adjuvant

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