Journal of Controlled Release
The immune response to antigens is directed in part by the presence or absence of costimulatory signals. The ability to coincidently present both antigen and, for example, a peptide that inhibits or activates the costimulatory pathway, would be a valuable tool for tolerization or immunization, respectively. A simple reaction scheme utilizing oxime chemistry was identified as a means to efficiently conjugate different peptide species to hyaluronan. Peptides synthesized with an aminooxy N-terminus reacted directly to hyaluronan under slightly acidic aqueous conditions without the need for a catalyst. The resulting oxime bond was found to rapidly hydrolyze at pH2 releasing peptide, but was stable at higher pH values (5.5 and 7). Two different peptide species, a multiple sclerosis antigen (PLP) and an ICAM-1 ligand (LABL) known to block immune cell stimulation, were functionalized with the aminooxy end group. These peptides showed similar reactivity to hyaluronan and were conjugated in an equimolar ratio. The resulting hyaluronan with grafted PLP and LABL significantly inhibited disease in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a model of multiple sclerosis. Aminooxy-peptides facilitate simple synthesis of multifunctional hyaluronan graft polymers, thus enabling novel approaches to antigen-specific immune modulation.