Comparative evaluation of CD8+CTL responses following gene gun immunization targeting the skin with intracutaneous injection of antigen-transduced dendritic cells

Evelyn Gaffal, Dirk Schweichel, Damia Tormo, Julia Steitz, Julia Lenz, Etiena Basner-Tschakarjan, Andreas Limmer, Thomas Tüting
European Journal of Cell Biology 2007, 86 (11-12): 817-26
The skin is an attractive target for antigen-specific vaccination. Particle bombardment of the epidermis with plasmid DNA using the gene gun results in antigen expression in keratinocytes of the epidermis leading to antigen presentation in the draining lymph nodes by migratory dendritic cells (DC). In order to better understand the role of the skin in stimulating antigen-specific CD8+cytotoxic T cells (CTL), we compared gene gun immunization with intracutaneous injections of antigen-transduced DC. A single intracutaneous injection of antigen-transduced DC was able to induce in vivo expansion of CD8+CTL specific for the model antigen chicken ovalbumin while four simultaneous shots with the gene gun were not effective. Antigen-transduced DC were much more efficient than particle bombardment of the epidermis in stimulating adoptively transferred TCR-transgenic CD8+CTL in the draining lymph nodes. Employing the novel technique of in vivo bioluminescence imaging, we demonstrated efficient gene transfer to the skin following gene gun bombardment and confirmed that a similar amount of antigen reached the lymph node when compared with injection of antigen-transduced DC. Our results suggest that direct transfection of the skin does not optimally reach and activate appropriate antigen-presenting DC. We believe that this reflects the immunological function of the epidermis which must balance immunity and tolerance to foreign antigens. Further investigations will have to address the role of Langerhans cells for the activation of cellular immunity in the skin.

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