Vaccine development relies on testing vaccine candidates in animal models. However, results from animals cannot always be translated to humans. Alternative ways to screen vaccine candidates before clinical trials are therefore desirable. Dendritic cells (DCs) are the main orchestrators of the immune system and the link between innate and adaptive responses. Their activation by vaccines is an essential step in vaccine-induced immune responses. We have systematically evaluated the suitability of two different human DC-based systems, namely the DC-cell line MUTZ-3 and primary monocyte-derived DCs (Mo-DCs) to screen immunopotentiating properties of vaccine candidates. Two different influenza vaccine formulations, whole inactivated virus (WIV) and subunit (SU), were used as model antigens as they represent a high immunogenic and low immunogenic vaccine, respectively. MUTZ-3 cells were restricted in their ability to respond to different stimuli. In contrast, Mo-DCs readily responded to WIV and SU in a vaccine-specific way. WIV stimulation elicited a more vigorous induction of activation markers, immune response-related genes and secretion of cytokines involved in antiviral responses than the SU vaccine. Furthermore, Mo-DCs differentiated from freshly isolated and freeze/thawed peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) showed a similar capacity to respond to different vaccines. Taken together, we identified human PBMC-derived Mo-DCs as a suitable platform to evaluate vaccine-induced immune responses. Importantly, we show that fresh and frozen PBMCs can be used indistinctly, which strongly facilitates the routine use of this system. In vitro vaccine pre-screening using human Mo-DCs is thus a promising approach for evaluating the immunopotentiating capacities of new vaccine formulations that have not yet been tested in humans.
- WHOLE VIRUS