Resiquimod is a modest adjuvant for HIV-1 gag-based genetic immunization in a mouse model

Miguel Otero, Sandra A. Calarota, Barbara Felber, Dominic Laddy, George Pavlakis, Jean D. Boyer, David B. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA vaccines have been effective at generating useful immune responses in many animal species. However, it is clearly desirable to increase their potency. The identification of adjuvants that increase their cell-mediated immune (CMI) response is therefore an important goal. Resiquimod is an imiquimod analog proven to activate dendritic cells through TLR-7. The adjuvant capacity of resiquimod has not, to our knowledge, been studied in the context of genetic immunization. Here, we studied resiquimod as an adjuvant for plasmid vaccine therapy by intra-muscular immunization of BALB/c mice with HIV-1 gag DNA vaccine without and with several concentrations of resiquimod (ranging from 5-100nM). We observed that resiquimod moderately enhanced IFN-γ production as measured by a peptide-based ELISPOT assay compared to that obtained in mice immunized with DNA gag only. Antigen-specific T-cell proliferation studies showed a several-fold increase in the stimulation index in mice immunized with DNA gag +50 nM of resiquimod as compared to mice receiving DNA gag alone. Antibody titer also increased, while the antibody isotyping data showed a strong Th1 biased type response. Analysis of cytokine production in serum samples demonstrated a stronger Th1 cytokine bias in the presence of resiquimod. Furthermore, relevant increase in IL-4 production, as measured by ELISPOT assay, was not observed. Our results show that resiquimod can have modest adjuvant activity, in a DNA formulation, driving the immune system towards a cell-mediated immune response. Additional studies involving this adjuvant for DNA vaccines are underway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1782-1790
Number of pages9
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - Apr 16 2004


  • HIV-1
  • Immunization
  • Resiquimod

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • veterinary(all)


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