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Heterologous Prime-Boost Combinations Highlight the Crucial Role of Adjuvant in Priming the Immune System

  • Ciabattini, Annalisa1
  • Pettini, Elena1
  • Fiorino, Fabio1
  • Lucchesi, Simone1
  • Pastore, Gabiria1
  • Brunetti, Jlenia2
  • Santoro, Francesco1
  • Andersen, Peter3
  • Bracci, Luisa2
  • Pozzi, Gianni1
  • Medaglini, Donata1
  • 1 Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Department of Medical Biotechnologies, University of Siena, Siena , (Italy)
  • 2 U&E PreMed Laboratory, Department of Medical Biotechnologies, University of Siena, Siena , (Italy)
  • 3 Department of Infectious Disease Immunology, Statens Serum Institute, Copenhagen , (Denmark)
Published Article
Frontiers in Immunology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Mar 12, 2018
DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00380
  • Immunology
  • Original Research


The induction and modulation of the immune response to vaccination can be rationally designed by combining different vaccine formulations for priming and boosting. Here, we investigated the impact of heterologous prime-boost approaches on the vaccine-specific cellular and humoral responses specific for a mycobacterial vaccine antigen. C57BL/6 mice were primed with the chimeric vaccine antigen H56 administered alone or with the CAF01 adjuvant, and boosted with H56 alone, or combined with CAF01 or with the squalene-based oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant (o/w squalene). A strong secondary H56-specific CD4+ T cell response was recalled by all the booster vaccine formulations when mice had been primed with H56 and CAF01, but not with H56 alone. The polyfunctional nature of T helper cells was analyzed and visualized with the multidimensional flow cytometry FlowSOM software, implemented as a package of the R environment. A similar cytokine profile was detected in groups primed with H56 + CAF01 and boosted with or without adjuvant, except for some clusters of cells expressing high level of IL-17 together with TNF-α, IL-2, and IFN-γ, that were significantly upregulated only in groups boosted with the adjuvants. On the contrary, the comparison between groups primed with or without the adjuvant showed a completely different clusterization of cells, strengthening the impact of the formulation used for primary immunization on the profiling of responding cells. The presence of the CAF01 adjuvant in the priming formulation deeply affected also the secondary humoral response, especially in groups boosted with H56 alone or o/w squalene. In conclusion, the presence of CAF01 adjuvant in the primary immunization is crucial for promoting primary T and B cell responses that can be efficiently reactivated by booster immunization also performed with antigen alone.

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