Novel nonviral delivery approaches for interleukin-12 protein and gene systems: Curbing toxicity and enhancing adjuvant activity

Mohamed Labib Salem, William E. Gillanders, Andre N. Kadima, Sabry El-Naggar, Mark P. Rubinstein, Marina Demcheva, John N. Vournakis, David J. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


It has become increasingly apparent that the ability to generate an optimal host immune response requires effective cross talk between the innate and adaptive components of the immune system. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, in particular those that can induce a danger signal, often called signal 3, are crucial in this role of initiating and augmenting the presentation of exogenous antigen to T cells by dendritic cells. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) in particular has been defined as a "signal 3" cytokine required for the antigen cross priming. Given this unique interactive function, a significant amount of work has been performed to define possible therapeutic applications for IL-12. Systemic IL-12 administration can clearly act as a potent adjuvant for post-vaccination T cell responses in a variety of diseases. As an example, in the cancer setting, systemic IL-12 is capable of suppressing tamor growth, metastasis, and angiogenesis in vivo. IL-12, however, has been associated with significant dose- and schedule-dependent toxicity in early clinical trials, results that have proven to be a major obstacle to its clinical application. Recent research has focused on decreasing the toxicity of IL-12 using different delivery approaches, including virus-based and gene-modified cell-based delivery. Although effective, these approaches also have limitations, including the generation of neutralizing antibodies, in addition to lacking the simplicity and versatility required for universal clinical application. Thus, there is a significant interest in the development of alternative delivery approaches for IL-12 administration that can overcome these issues. Several nonviral delivery approaches for IL-12 protein or gene expression vectors are being defined, including alum, liposomes, and polymer-based delivery. These developing approaches have shown promising adjuvant effects with significantly lessened systemic toxicity. This article discusses the potential capabilities of these nonvirus-based IL-12 delivery systems in different disease settings, including allergy, infection, and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-608
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006


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