Journal Of Controlled Release : Official Journal Of The Controlled Release Society
Transcutaneous DNA immunization is an attractive immunization approach. Previously, we reported that transcutaneous immunization by applying plasmid DNA onto a skin area wherein the hair follicles had been induced into growth stage by ‘cold’ waxing-based hair plucking significantly enhanced the resultant immune responses. In the present study, using a plasmid that encodes the Bacillus anthracis protective antigen (PA63) gene fragment, it was shown that the anti-PA63 antibody responses induced by applying the plasmid onto a skin area where the hair was plucked by ‘warm’ waxing were significantly stronger than by ‘cold’ waxing, very likely because the ‘warm’ waxing-based hair depilation significantly i) enhanced the uptake (or retention) of the plasmid in the application area and ii) enhanced the expression of the transfected gene in the follicular and interfollicular epidermis in the skin. The antibody response induced by transcutaneous DNA immunization was hair cycle dependent, because the plasmid needed to be applied within 5days after the hair plucking to induce a strong antibody response. The antibody responses were not affected by whether the expressed PA63 protein, as an antigen, was secreted or cell surface bound. Finally, this strategy of enhancing the immune responses induced by transcutaneous DNA immunization following ‘warm’ waxing-based hair depilation was not limited to the PA63 as an antigen, because immunization with a plasmid that encodes the HIV-1 env gp160 gene induced a strong anti-gp160 response as well. Transcutaneous DNA immunization by modifying the hair follicle cycle may hold a great promise in inducing strong and functional immune responses.