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      Chimeric HBcAg virus-like particles presenting a HPV 16 E7 epitope significantly suppressed tumor progression through preventive or therapeutic immunization in a TC-1-grafted mouse model

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          Therapeutic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are currently being developed. However, no therapeutic efficacy has been achieved in clinical trials for the treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or cancer. One of the important issues in increasing vaccine efficacy is determining the best way to enhance tumor antigen-specific cellular immune responses. This study aimed to explore the virus-like particles (VLPs) of hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) as potential therapeutic vaccine carriers and to assess its immunological characteristics.


          Chimeric VLPs presenting a HPV 16 cytotoxic T lymphocytes epitope E7 49–57 (amino acid 49–57 of the E7 protein) were prepared using recombinant genes. C57BL/6 mice were immunized with VLPs and grafted with tumor cells TC-1 which is an E7-expressing tumorigenic cell line. The dynamic tumor growth was monitored and anti-tumor immune responses were investigated.


          Using a preventive strategy, immunization with VLPs resulted in nearly complete suppression of tumor growth. In treatment studies, VLP immunization significantly suppressed the tumor progression in mice carrying 2–3 mm tumors and in those bearing even larger tumors with diameters up to 8–9 mm. The VLP structure was shown to be important to induce vigorous antitumor immunity and effects. In immunized mice, enhanced E7 49–57-specific cellular immune responses were evidenced by increased interferon (IFN)-γ expression and decreased interleukin (IL)-4 expression in splenic lymphocytes, as well as an elevated number of effector cells expressing IFN-γ in response to the in vitro stimulation of the specific peptide E7 49–57. In addition, effective immune memory after VLP immunization was maintained for at least 16 weeks, preventing significant tumor growth after subsequent TC-1 challenge.


          While VLPs were highly immunogenic in stimulating humoral immunity, our results strongly indicated that VLPs, such as HBcAg particles, might also be potent therapeutic vaccine carriers to elicit robust cellular immune responses, even in the immunosuppressive microenvironment of a tumor.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Estimates of the worldwide incidence, mortality and prevalence of 26 cancers in the year 2002 are now available in the GLOBOCAN series of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The results are presented here in summary form, including the geographic variation between 20 large "areas" of the world. Overall, there were 10.9 million new cases, 6.7 million deaths, and 24.6 million persons alive with cancer (within three years of diagnosis). The most commonly diagnosed cancers are lung (1.35 million), breast (1.15 million), and colorectal (1 million); the most common causes of cancer death are lung cancer (1.18 million deaths), stomach cancer (700,000 deaths), and liver cancer (598,000 deaths). The most prevalent cancer in the world is breast cancer (4.4 million survivors up to 5 years following diagnosis). There are striking variations in the risk of different cancers by geographic area. Most of the international variation is due to exposure to known or suspected risk factors related to lifestyle or environment, and provides a clear challenge to prevention.
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            Links between human papillomaviruses (HPVs) and cervical cancer were first suspected almost 30 years ago. DNA of specific HPV types has since been found in almost all cervical cancer biopsies. HPV oncogenes that are expressed in these cells are involved in their transformation and immortalization, and are required for the progression towards malignancy. Epidemiological studies have underlined that HPVs are the main aetiological factor for cervical cancer. But how has this knowledge been translated into the clinic to allow the prevention, screening and treatment of cervical cancer?
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              The T helper lymphocyte is responsible for orchestrating the appropriate immune response to a wide variety of pathogens. The recognition of the polarized T helper cell subsets Th1 and Th2 has led to an understanding of the role of these cells in coordinating a variety of immune responses, both in responses to pathogens and in autoimmune and allergic disease. Here, we discuss the mechanisms that control lineage commitment to the Th1 phenotype. What has recently emerged is a rich understanding of the cytokines, receptors, signal transduction pathways, and transcription factors involved in Th1 differentiation. Although the picture is still incomplete, the basic pathways leading to Th1 differentiation can now be understood in in vitro and a number of infection and disease models.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, Institute of Medical Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Science & Peking Union Medical College, Kunming, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Yunnan Key Laboratory of Vaccine Research & Development on Severe Infectious Disease, Kunming, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]Yunnan Engineering Research Center of Vaccine Research and Development on Severe Infectious Disease, Kunming, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Yanbing Ma, Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, Institute of Medical Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, 935 Jiaoling Road, Kunming 650118, People’s Republic of China, Tel +86 871 6833 9287, Fax +86 871 6833 4483, Email mayanbing1969@

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                Int J Nanomedicine
                Int J Nanomedicine
                International Journal of Nanomedicine
                International Journal of Nanomedicine
                Dove Medical Press
                27 May 2016
                : 11
                : 2417-2429
                27313455 4892837 10.2147/IJN.S102467 ijn-11-2417
                © 2016 Chu et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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