UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Publication Date


Document Type



Adjuvants, Immunologic; Animals; CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes; Dendritic Cells; Imidazoles; Interferon Type I; Interleukin-1alpha; Interleukin-1beta; Mice; Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88; Poly I-C; RNA; RNA, Messenger; Signal Transduction; Th1 Cells; Time Factors


Immunology and Infectious Disease | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


There is a growing need for novel vaccine adjuvants that can provide safe and potent T-helper type 1 (Th1) activity. RNA-like immune response modifiers (IRMs) are candidate T-cell adjuvants that skew acquired immune responses towards a Th1 phenotype. We set out to delineate the essential signaling pathways by which the RNA-like IRMs, resiquimod (R-848) and polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), augment CD4+ T-helper 1 (Th1) responses. Highly purified murine conventional dendritic cells (cDCs) and conventional CD4+ T-cells were co-cultured in allogeneic and MHC congenic mixed leukocyte reactions. The activation of CD4+ Th1 cells was examined utilizing cells from mice deficient in specific RNA-sensing pattern recognition receptors and signaling mediators. R-848 and poly I:C stimulation of Type I interferon production and signaling in cDCs was essential but not sufficient for driving CD4+ Th1 responses. The early and rapid production of IL-1alpha and IL-1beta was equally critical for the optimal activation of Th1 CD4+ T-cells. R-848 activation of Toll-like receptor 7/MyD88-dependent signaling in cDCs led to a rapid upregulation of pro-IL-1alpha and pro-IL-1beta production compared to poly I:C activation of MyD88-independent signaling pathways. The in vitro data show that CD4+ T-cell adjuvant activity of RNA-like IRMs is mediated by a critical combination of early and rapid Type I interferon, IL-1alpha and IL-1beta production. These results provide important insights into the key signaling pathways responsible for RNA-like IRM CD4+ Th1 activation. A better understanding of the critical signaling pathways by which RNA-like IRMs stimulate CD4+ Th1 responses is relevant to the rational design of improved vaccine adjuvants.

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Copyright: © 2011 Madera et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



Madera RF, Wang JP, Libraty DH (2011) The Combination of Early and Rapid Type I IFN, IL-1α, and IL-1β Production Are Essential Mediators of RNA-Like Adjuvant Driven CD4+ Th1 Responses. PLoS ONE 6(12): e29412. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029412. Link to article on publisher's site

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PloS one

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