The development of practical and flexible vaccines to target liver stage malaria parasites would benefit from an ability to induce high levels of CD8 T cells to minimal peptide epitopes. Herein we compare different adjuvant and carrier systems in a murine model for induction of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) producing CD8 T cells to the minimal immuno-dominant peptide epitope from the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) of Plasmodium berghei, pb9 (SYIPSAEKI, referred to as KI). Two pro-inflammatory adjuvants, Montanide and Poly I:C, and a non-classical, non-inflammatory nanoparticle based carrier (polystyrene nanoparticles, PSNPs), were compared side-by-side for their ability to induce potentially protective CD8 T cell responses after two immunizations. KI in Montanide (Montanide + KI) or covalently conjugated to PSNPs (PSNPs-KI) induced such high responses, whereas adjuvanting with Poly I:C or PSNPs without conjugation was ineffective. This result was consistent with an observed induction of an immunosuppressed environment by Poly I:C in the draining lymph node (dLN) 48 h post injection, which was reflected by increased frequencies of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and a proportion of inflammation reactive regulatory T cells (Treg) expressing the tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2), as well as decreased dendritic cell (DC) maturation. The other inflammatory adjuvant, Montanide, also promoted proportional increases in the TNFR2+ Treg subpopulation, but not MDSCs, in the dLN. By contrast, injection with non-inflammatory PSNPs did not cause these changes. Induction of high CD8 T cell responses, using minimal peptide epitopes, can be achieved by non-inflammatory carrier nanoparticles, which in contrast to some conventional inflammatory adjuvants, do not expand either MDSCs or inflammation reactive Tregs at the site of priming.
- CD8 peptide