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The effects of topical calcipotriol treatment on immune responses to vaccination Bach, Paxton John


1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (Vitamin D) is a potent immunomodulator capable of generating regulatory T cells (Tregs) and contributing to immune tolerance. Additionally, vitamin D has been shown to promote mucosal immunity when used as a vaccine adjuvant. We show here that pretreatment of an area of skin with the synthetic vitamin D analog calcipotriol combined with transcutaneous immunization results in the induction of CD4⁺CD25⁺ Tregs capable of inhibiting the elicitation of a contact hypersensitivity response. We also demonstrate that topical calcipotriol has significant effects on the immune response to subcutaneously injected vaccines, and compare it with another common topical immunosuppressant, the corticosteroid betamethasone-17-valerate (BMV). Functionally, calcipotriol and BMV treatment both result in the suppression of CD8⁺ T cell priming in response to subcutaneous vaccination, despite the topical co-administration of the potent Th1 inducing TLR9 agonist unmethylated CpG DNA. The effects of calcipotriol on the humoral response are subtler as we observe marginally increased production of antigen-specific IgG1 immunoglobulins along with a strong suppression of the IgG2a isotype. This is in contrast to pretreatment with BMV, which instead suppresses the production of IgG1 and IgA antibodies. In the draining lymph nodes of calcipotriol treated animals, we see no change in the percentage of Foxp3⁺ CD4⁺ T cells post-immunization, but show that tolerance is transferable with the adoptive transfer of CD4⁺CD25⁺ cells. Despite a decrease in the percentage of antigen-bearing APCs in the DLN of calcipotriol treated animals, the DCs maintain high expression of co-stimulatory markers and can induce CD4⁺ T cell proliferation ex vivo. Our data indicate that calcipotriol has distinct effects on immune responses to subcutaneous vaccines consistent with its role as an immunomodulator, although the mechanism(s) through which it is acting remain unclear. We believe that further research is warranted into its potential use as part of a treatment modality for allergy and autoimmune disorders.

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