PLoS One. 2012. 7(8):e40928
Simon H. Apte, Penny L Groves, Mariusz Skwarczynski, Yoshio Fujita, Chenghung Chang, Istvan Toth, Denise L Doolan.
Vaccines against many pathogens for which conventional approaches have failed remain an unmet public health priority. Synthetic peptide-based vaccines offer an attractive alternative to whole protein and whole organism vaccines, particularly for complex pathogens that cause chronic infection. Previously, we have reported a promising lipid core peptide (LCP) vaccine delivery system that incorporates the antigen, carrier, and adjuvant in a single molecular entity. LCP vaccines have been used to deliver several peptide subunit-based vaccine candidates and induced high titre functional antibodies and protected against Group A streptococcus in mice. Herein, we have evaluated whether LCP constructs incorporating defined CD4(+) and/or CD8(+) T cell epitopes could induce epitope-specific T cell responses and protect against pathogen challenge in a rodent malaria model. We show that LCP vaccines failed to induce an expansion of antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells following primary immunization or by boosting. We further demonstrated that the LCP vaccines induced a non-specific type 2 polarized cytokine response, rather than an epitope-specific canonical CD8(+) T cell type 1 response. Cytotoxic responses of unknown specificity were also induced. These non-specific responses were able to protect against parasite challenge. These data demonstrate that vaccination with lipid core peptides fails to induce canonical epitope-specific T cell responses, at least in our rodent model, but can nonetheless confer non-specific protective immunity against Plasmodium parasite challenge.