T-cell tolerance to tumor antigens is a considerable challenge to cancer immunotherapy. The existence of a murine model transgenic for human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) allows CEA vaccination efficacy to be studied in a physiologically tolerant context. Immunization of CEA-transgenic mice with an adenoviral vector coding for CEA induced a significant CD8+ T-cell response specific to CEA but failed to induce CEA-specific CD4+ T cells and antibodies. To overcome CD4+ T-cell tolerance, we explored the effect of adjuvants inducing in vivo dendritic cell maturation. Two different Toll-like receptor ligands, monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) and CpG motif-containing oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG-ODN), were tested. CD4 +-mediated IFN-γ production was induced in the CEA-transgenic mice only when the genetic immunization was performed in the presence of these adjuvants. Moreover, CpG-ODN had a greater effect than MPL in inducing CD4 + T-cell response and enabling anti-CEA antibody production.
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