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HTLV-1 Tax peptide-carrying polyion complex nanoparticles induce potent cellular immunity in mice

Development of safe and effective vaccines is important for controlling a variety of infectious diseases, including retroviral infections. The induction of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) is a promising strategy for elimination of infected cells. Polyion complex (PIC) nanoparticles have been created using anionic biodegradable poly(γ-glutamic acid) (γ-PGA) and cationic protamine. Amphiphilic graft copolymers, consisting of γ-PGA and l-phenylalanine (l-Phe) hydrophobic side chain, were synthesized by grafting l-Phe to γ-PGA. The PIC nanoparticles were prepared by mixing the graft copolymers with protamine in phosphate buffered saline. In this study, antigen peptide-carrying PIC nanoparticles were examined for their effect on the induction of antigen-specific cellular immunity in mice. The antigen-specific CTL response was evaluated by intracellular cytokine staining and IFN-γ ELISPOT assay. The immunization with PIC nanoparticles carrying HTLV-1 Tax peptide could induce the expansion of Tax-specific CD8+ T cells. In contrast, no such induction of the antigen-specific CD8+ T cells was observed, when mice were immunized with the peptide alone or peptide plus an aluminum adjuvant. These results suggest that the Tax peptide-carrying PIC nanoparticles are capable of inducing cellular immune responses and may have potential as an effective vaccine adjuvant for anti-HTLV-1 vaccines.

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Correspondence to Tomofumi Uto.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Uto, T., Akagi, T., Akashi, M. et al. HTLV-1 Tax peptide-carrying polyion complex nanoparticles induce potent cellular immunity in mice. Retrovirology 11 (Suppl 1), P63 (2014).

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