Interleukin-12 as a genetic adjuvant enhances hepatitis C virus NS3 DNA vaccine immunogenicity
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- Naderi, M., Saeedi, A., Moradi, A. et al. Virol. Sin. (2013) 28: 167. doi:10.1007/s12250-013-3291-z
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronic infection is a worldwide health problem, and numerous efforts have been invested to develop novel vaccines. An efficient vaccine requires broad immune response induction against viral proteins. To achieve this goal, we constructed a DNA vaccine expressing nonstructural 3 (NS3) gene (pcDNA3.1-HCV-NS3) and assessed the immune response in C57BL/6 mice. In this study, the NS3 gene was amplified with a nested-reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method using sera of HCV-infected patients with genotype 1a. The resulting NS3 gene was subcloned into a pcDNA3.1 eukaryotic expression vector, and gene expression was detected by western blot. The resultant DNA vaccine was co-administered with interleukin-12 (IL-12) as an adjuvant to female C57BL/6 mice. After the final immunizations, lymphocyte proliferation, cytotoxicity, and cytokine levels were assessed to measure immune responses. Our data suggest that co-administration of HCV NS3 DNA vaccine with IL-12 induces production of significant levels of both IL-4 and interferon (IFN)-γ (p<0.05). Cytotoxicity and lymphocyte proliferation responses of vaccinated mice were significantly increased compared to control (p<0.05). Collectively, our results demonstrated that co-administration of HCV NS3 and IL-12 displayed strong immunogenicity in a murine model.