Vaccines targeting self-antigens: mechanisms and efficacy-determining parameters

Falk Saupe, Elisabeth J M Huijbers, Tobias Hein, Julia Femel, Jessica Cedervall, Anna-Karin Olsson, Lars Hellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


We recently showed that it is possible to compromise tumor vessel function and, as a consequence, suppress growth of aggressive preclinical tumors by immunizing against the tumor vascular markers extra domain-A (ED-A) or -B (ED-B) of fibronectin, using a fusion protein consisting of the ED-A or ED-B peptide fused to bacterial thioredoxin. To address the mechanism behind fusion protein-induced immunization and the specific contribution of the different vaccine constituents to elicit an anti-self-antibody response, we immunized mice with modified or unmodified self-antigens, combined with different adjuvant components, and analyzed antibody responses by ELISA in sera. Several essential requirements to circumvent tolerance were identified: (1) a potent pattern recognition receptor agonist like an oligonucleotide containing unmethylated cytosine and guanine dinucleotides (CpG); (2) a depot adjuvant to keep the CpG at the site of injection; and (3) the presence of foreign sequences in the vaccine protein. Lack of either of these factors abolished the anti-self-response (P = 0.008). In mice genetically deficient for type I IFN signaling, there was a 60% reduction in the anti-self-response compared with wild-type (P = 0.011), demonstrating a key role of this pathway in CpG-induced circumvention of self-tolerance. Identification of these mechanistic requirements to generate a potent anti-self-immune response should significantly aid the design of efficient, specific, and safe therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3253-62
Number of pages10
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic/pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation/immunology
  • Autoantigens/immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines/immunology
  • CpG Islands/immunology
  • Female
  • Fibronectins/immunology
  • Immune Tolerance/immunology
  • Interferon Type I/immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasms/immunology

Cite this