Background Specific targeting of anti-cancer vaccines to dendritic cells (DCs) has been shown to mount efficient immune responses against tumor cells. Classical CD103+dendritic cells (also called cDC1) have an inherent ability to cross-present antigens to CD8+ cytotoxic T cells. Here we have explored an anti-tumor vaccine that specifically targets cDC1 cells for protection against and elimination of metastatic melanoma. The vaccine contains the cholera toxin A1 subunit (CTA1) adjuvant and is targeted to cDC1 cells through an anti-CD103 single chain antibody (CD103 scFv).
Material and Methods C57BL/6 mice were injected with wild type or ovalbumin (OVA) expressing B16 melanoma cells either subcutaneously (s.c.) to establish solid tumors, or intravenously (i.v.) to allow the formation of pulmonary metastases. Before or after establishment of tumors, mice were intra-nasally inoculated with a vaccine composed of a CD103 scFv element fused to the adjuvant CTA1 and the MHC I H2kd-restricted OVA epitope SIINFEKL together with the MHC II H2kd-restricted OVA epitope p323 or just the p323 peptide alone (i.e. CTA1-SIINFEKL-p323-CD103 and CTA1-p323-CD103, respectively). Control mice were inoculated with PBS. The growth of solid tumors was carefully monitored and the development of pulmonary metastases was determined 2–3 weeks after tumor cell injection. In addition, antigen-specific T cell immunity following intranasal immunization was evaluated.
Results Targeting MHC I and MHC II tumor cell epitopes to cDC1, via CD103 ScFv, in conjunction with the CTA1 adjuvant elicited strong tumor specific and protective CD8+ T cell responses as well as CD4+ T cell immunity. Immunization with the CTA1-SIINFEKL-p323-CD103 vaccine significantly reduced the growth of established solid B16F1-OVA melanomas (P<0.001) and potently prevented metastasis formation (P<0.01). Control immunizations with the CTA1-p323-CD103 vaccine tended to reduce metastasis, but tumor-specific CD8+ T cells were required for full therapeutic protection.
Conclusion Targeting tumor specific CD8+ T cell epitopes to cDC1, in the context of a powerful adjuvant such as CTA1, leads to the development of efficient anti-tumor immune responses. Our results point towards the utility of cDC1-targeted vaccines in the treatment of established tumors or as a means to prevent metastasis formation.
Disclosure Information M. Arabpour: None. S. Paul: None. R. Kiffin: None. H.G. Wiktorin: None. K. Hellstrand: None. N. Lycke: None. A. Martner: None.
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