DNA vaccine has been suggested to use in cancer therapy, but the efficacy remains to be improved. The immunostimulatory effect of a fungal immunomodulatory protein Ling Zhi-8 (LZ-8) isolated from Ganoderma lucidum has been reported. In this study, we tested the adjuvanticity of LZ-8 for HER-2/neu DNA vaccine against p185neu expressing tumor MBT-2 in mice. We found that recombinant LZ-8 stimulated mouse bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DCs) via TLR4 and its stimulatory effect was not due to any microbe contaminant. In addition, LZ-8 enhanced the ability of DCs to induce antigen-specific T cell activation in vitro and in a subunit vaccine model in vivo. Surprisingly, LZ-8 cotreatment strongly improved the therapeutic effect of DNA vaccine against MBT-2 tumor in mice. This increase in antitumor activity was attributed to the enhancement of vaccine-induced Th1 and CTL responses. Consistent with the results from DCs, the promoting effect of LZ-8 on DNA vaccine was diminished when the MBT-2 tumor cells were grown in TLR4 mutant mice. Thus, we concluded that LZ-8 may be a promising adjuvant to enhance the efficacy of DNA vaccine by activating DCs via TLR4.
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