Recent studies in both animal models and clinical trials have demonstrated that the avidity of T cells is a major determinant of antitumor and antiviral immunity. In this study, we evaluated several different vaccine strategies for their ability to enhance both the quantity and avidity of CTL responses. CD8+ T cell quantity was measured by tetramer binding precursor frequency, and avidity was measured by both tetramer dissociation and quantitative cytolytic function. We have evaluated a peptide, a viral vector expressing the Ag transgene alone, with one costimulatory molecule (B7-1), and with three costimulatory molecules (B7-1, ICAM-1, and LFA-3), with anti-CTLA-4 mAb, with GM-CSF, and combinations of the above. We have evaluated these strategies in both a foreign Ag model using β-galactosidase as immunogen, and in a "self" Ag model, using carcinoembryonic Ag as immunogen in carcinoembryonic Ag transgenic mice. The combined use of several of these strategies was shown to enhance not only the quantity, but, to a greater magnitude, the avidity of T cells generated; a combination strategy is also shown to enhance antitumor effects. The results reported in this study thus demonstrate multiple strategies that can be used in both antitumor and antiviral vaccine settings to generate higher avidity host T cell responses.
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