Among innovative adjuvants conferring a Th1-shift, RNAdjuvant is a promising candidate. This adjuvant consists of a 547-nt uncapped noncoding ssRNA containing polyU repeats that is stabilized by a cationic carrier peptide. Whereas vaccination of mice with an influenza subunit vaccine induced moderate virus-specific IgG1, vaccination together with RNAdjuvant significantly enhanced this IgG1 and additionally promoted the formation of IgG2b/c, which is indicative of Th1 responses. Furthermore, such sera neutralized influenza virus, whereas this effect was not detected upon vaccination with the subunit vaccine alone. Similarly, upon vaccination with virus-like particles displaying vesicular stomatitis virus G protein, RNAdjuvant promoted the formation of virus-specific IgG2b/c and enhanced neutralizing IgG responses to an extent that mice were protected against lethal virus infection. RNAdjuvant induced dendritic cells to upregulate activation markers and produce IFN-I. Although these effects were strictly TLR7 dependent, RNAdjuvant-mediated augmentation of vaccine responses needed concurrent TLR and RIG-I–like helicase signaling. This was indicated by the absence of the adjuvant effect in vaccinated MyD88−/−Cardif−/− mice, which are devoid of TLR (with the exception of TLR3) and RIG-I–like helicase signaling, whereas in vaccinated MyD88−/− mice the adjuvant effect was reduced. Notably, i.m. RNAdjuvant injection induced local IFN-I responses and did not induce systemic effects, implying good tolerability and a favorable safety profile for RNAdjuvant.
This study was supported in part by the Helmholtz Association’s Cross Program Initiative on Personalized Medicines (to C.A.G. and U.K.).
- Received June 28, 2016.
- Accepted December 12, 2016.
- Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.