Cationic liposomes loaded with a synthetic long Peptide and poly(i:C): a defined adjuvanted vaccine for induction of antigen-specific T cell cytotoxicity

Publication Type:

Journal Article


AAPS J, Volume 17, Number 1, pp. 216-26 (2015)


1550-7416 (Electronic)15

DOI Name (links to online publication)



For effective cancer immunotherapy by vaccination, co-delivery of tumour antigens and adjuvants to dendritic cells and subsequent activation of antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) is crucial. In this study, a synthetic long peptide (SLP) harbouring the model CTL epitope SIINFEKL was encapsulated with the TLR3 ligand poly(inosinic-polycytidylic acid) (poly(I:C)) in cationic liposomes consisting of DOTAP and DOPC. The obtained particles were down-sized to about 140 nm (measured by dynamic light scattering) and had a positive zeta-potential of about 26 mV (according to laser Doppler electrophoresis). SLP loading efficiency was about 40% as determined by HPLC. Poly(I:C) loading efficiency was about 50%, as assessed from the fluorescence intensity of fluorescently labelled poly(I:C). Immunogenicity of the liposomal SLP vaccine was evaluated in vitro by its capacity to activate dendritic cells (DCs) and present the processed SLP to SIINFEKL-specific T cells. The effectiveness of the vaccine to activate CD8(+) T cells was analysed in vivo after intradermal and subcutaneous immunisation in mice, by measuring antigen-specific T cells in blood and spleens and assessing their functionality by cytokine production and in vivo cytotoxicity. The liposomal formulation efficiently delivered the SLP to DCs in vitro and induced a functional CD8(+) T cell immune response in vivo to the CTL epitope present in the SLP. The SLP-specific CD8(+) T cell frequency induced by the poly(I:C)-adjuvanted liposomal SLP formulation showed an at least 25 fold increase over the T cell frequency induced by the poly(I:C)-adjuvanted soluble SLP. In conclusion, cationic liposomes loaded with SLP and poly(I:C) have potential as a powerful therapeutic cancer vaccine formulation.