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Blocking interleukin-4 enhances efficacy of vaccines for treatment of opioid abuse and prevention of opioid overdose

Laudenbach, M;Baruffaldi, F;Robinson, C;Carter, P;Seelig, D;Baehr, C;Pravetoni, M;

Vaccines offer an option to treat heroin and prescription opioid abuse and prevent fatal overdoses. Opioid vaccines elicit antibodies that block opioid distribution to the brain and reduce opioid-induced behavioral effects and toxicity. The major limitation to the translation of addiction vaccines is that efficacy is observed only in subjects achieving optimal drug-specific serum antibody levels. This study tested whether efficacy of a vaccine against oxycodone is increased by immunomodulators targeting key cytokine signaling pathways involved in B and T cell lymphocyte activation. Blockage of IL-4 signaling increased vaccine efficacy in blocking oxycodone distribution to the brain and protection against opioid-induced behavior and toxicity in mice. This strategy generalized to a peptide-protein conjugate immunogen, and a tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine. These data demonstrate that cytokine-based immunomodulators increase efficacy of vaccines against small molecules, peptides and proteins, and identify IL-4 as a pharmacological target for improving efficacy of next-generation vaccines.