• The STING activator c-di-AMP exerts superior adjuvant properties than the formulation poly(I:C)/CpG after subcutaneous vaccination with soluble protein antigen or DEC-205-mediated antigen targeting to dendritic cells.

      Volckmar, Julia; Knop, Laura; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Schulze, Kai; Ebensen, Thomas; Guzmán, Carlos A; Bruder, Dunja; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-08-14)
      Vaccination is the most efficient strategy to protect from infectious diseases and the induction of a protective immune response not only depends on the nature of the antigen, but is also influenced by the vaccination strategy and the co-administration of adjuvants. Therefore, the precise monitoring of adjuvant candidates and their immune modulatory properties is a crucial step in vaccine development. Here, one central aspect is the induction of appropriate humoral and cellular effector mechanisms. In our study we performed a direct comparison of two promising candidates in adjuvant development, the STING activator bis-(3,5)-cyclic dimeric adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) and the Toll-like receptor ligand formulation poly(I:C)/CpG. These were evaluated in C57BL/6 mice using the model antigen ovalbumin (OVA) in subcutaneous vaccination with soluble protein as well as in a dendritic cell (DC) targeting approach (αDEC-OVA). Strikingly, c-di-AMP as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG resulted in significantly higher antigen-specific IgG antibody levels when used in immunization with soluble OVA as well as in antigen targeting to DC. In vaccination with soluble OVA, c-di-AMP induced a significantly stronger CTL, Th1 and IFNγ-producing CD8+ memory T cell response than poly(I:C)/CpG. The response was CTL and Th1 cell dominated, a profile shared by both adjuvants. In the context of targeting OVA to DC, c-di-AMP induced significantly increased Th1 and Th2 cell responses as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG. Interestingly, the Th1 response dominated the overall T cell response only when c-di-AMP was used, indicating a distinct modulatory property of c-di-AMP when the DC targeting immunization approach was exploited. Taken together, we describe superior properties of c-di-AMP as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG in subcutaneous vaccination with soluble antigen as well as antigen targeting to DC. This indicates exceptionally effective adjuvant properties for c-di-AMP and provides compelling evidence of its potential for further adjuvant development, especially also when using DC targeting approaches.