Incorporation of Toll-Like Receptor Ligands and Inflammasome Stimuli in GM3 Liposomes to Induce Dendritic Cell Maturation and T Cell Responses

Maarten K Nijen Twilhaar, Lucas Czentner, Rianne G Bouma, Katarzyna Olesek, Joanna Grabowska, Aru Zeling Wang, Alsya J Affandi, Saskia C Belt, Hakan Kalay, Cornelus F van Nostrum, Yvette van Kooyk, Gert Storm, Joke M M den Haan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Cancer vaccination aims to activate immunity towards cancer cells and can be achieved by delivery of cancer antigens together with immune stimulatory adjuvants to antigen presenting cells (APC). APC maturation and antigen processing is a subsequent prerequisite for T cell priming and anti-tumor immunity. In order to specifically target APC, nanoparticles, such as liposomes, can be used for the delivery of antigen and adjuvant. We have previously shown that liposomal inclusion of the ganglioside GM3, an endogenous ligand for CD169, led to robust uptake by CD169-expressing APC and resulted in strong immune responses when supplemented with a soluble adjuvant. To minimize the adverse effects related to a soluble adjuvant, immune stimulatory molecules can be incorporated in liposomes to achieve targeted delivery of both antigen and adjuvant. In this study, we incorporated TLR4 (MPLA) or TLR7/8 (3M-052) ligands in combination with inflammasome stimuli, 1-palmitoyl-2-glutaryl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (PGPC) or muramyl dipeptide (MDP), into GM3 liposomes. Incorporation of TLR and inflammasome ligands did not interfere with the uptake of GM3 liposomes by CD169-expressing cells. GM3 liposomes containing a TLR ligand efficiently matured human and mouse dendritic cells in vitro and in vivo, while inclusion of PGPC or MDP had minor effects on maturation. Immunization with MPLA-containing GM3 liposomes containing an immunogenic synthetic long peptide stimulated CD4 + and CD8 + T cell responses, but additional incorporation of either PGPC or MDP did not translate into stronger immune responses. In conclusion, our study indicates that TLRL-containing GM3 liposomes are effective vectors to induce DC maturation and T cell priming and thus provide guidance for further selection of liposomal components to optimally stimulate anti-cancer immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number842241
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2022


  • T cells
  • cancer
  • dendritic cells
  • inflammasome stimuli
  • liposomes
  • toll-like receptor ligand
  • vaccination


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