To enhance and steer immune responses to synthetic peptide vaccines toward selected functional types and to understand the cooperative action of cytokines in fine-tuning the immune response, we attempted to influence the in vivo cytokine environment by delivering cytokines directly to the microenvironment in which the immune response is initiated. Here we study the effects of IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-1beta, IL-12, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF) incorporated with peptide in adjuvant on a variety of responses elicited: CTL, T cell proliferation, cytokine production and message, and Ab isotype. We show GM-CSF to be the single most effective cytokine for enhancing both cellular and humoral immunity to two previously characterized HIV-1 MN vaccine constructs. Novel synergies were also detected. GM-CSF synergized with IL-12 for CTL induction in BALB/c mice concomitant with suppression of Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-10. TNF-alpha also synergized with IL-12, but by a different mechanism, inducing IFN-gamma production in BALB/c mice and thus shifting the response to a Th1 phenotype. The results presented here suggest that in addition to IL-2, optimum induction of CD8+ CTL in vivo requires a combination of cytokines, including GM-CSF (probably acting to enhance Ag presentation and CD4+ cell help) and IL-12 (steering the Th response toward Th1 cytokines).

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