Vaccination-Induced Autoimmune Vitiligo Is a Consequence of Secondary Trauma to the Skin
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A major concern for cancer vaccines targeting self-tumor antigens is the risk of autoimmune sequelae. Although antitumor immunity correlates with autoimmune disease in some preclinical models, the mechanism(s) linking antitumor immunity and subsequent autoimmune pathology remain(s) to be determined. In the current study, we demonstrated that intradermal (i.d.) immunization with a recombinant adenovirus (Ad) expressing the murine melanoma antigen tyrosinase-related protein 2 (AdmTrp-2) results in a moderate level of tumor protection against the B16F10 murine melanoma without any vitiligo. Similar immunization with an Ad encoding human Trp-2 (AdhTrp-2) resulted in 50-fold greater protective immunity and produced vitiligo in all of the mice, suggesting that the development of autoimmunity may reflect the potency of the vaccine. Interestingly, delivery of AdhTrp-2 by i.m. injection generated protective immunity comparable with that seen in mice that received the vaccine by the i.d. route, but none of the recipients in the i.m. group developed vitiligo. The cellular and humoral responses in the i.m. immunized mice were greater than in the i.d. group; therefore, the lack of vitiligo was not caused by reduced efficacy of the vaccine. These results led us to hypothesize that vaccine-induced vitiligo was associated with local inflammatory responses. Mice immunized i.m. with AdhTrp-2 did develop vitiligo when they subsequently were injected i.d. with either a control Ad vector or complete Freund's adjuvant, suggesting that vitiligo is initiated by some form of trauma within the skin. Our data demonstrated that autoimmune pathology is not an unavoidable outcome of effective cancer vaccines directed against self-tumor antigens.
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