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Keywords:

  • Dendritic cells;
  • epitopes;
  • heparanase;
  • immunotherapy;
  • tumor antigens

Previous studies have indicated that heparanase (Hpa) might represent a candidate universal tumor-associated antigen. However, vaccine therapy targeting only one cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope is suboptimal in preventing cancer. In the present study, we designed heparanase multi-epitope vaccines to increase the immune response to standard single heparanase epitopes. The results showed that multi-epitope vaccines Hpa525 + 277 + 405 + 16 and Hpa8 + 310 + 315 + 363 induced higher Hpa-specific lysis of various cancer cells from different tissues in a HLA-A2-restricted and heparanase-specific manner compared with the single epitope vaccines Hpa525, Hpa277, Hpa405, Hpa16, Hpa8, Hpa310, Hpa315 and Hpa363, both in vitro and ex vivo. Heparanase multi-epitope vaccines not only induced the heparanase-specific CTL to lyse tumor cells but also increased CTL secretion of interferon-γ. However, these heparanase-specific CTL did not lyse heparanase-expressing autologous lymphocytes and dendritic cells, which confirms the safety of these multi-epitope vaccines. Therefore, the present study provides theoretical evidence for the use of heparanase multi-epitope vaccines for clinical application.