The CpG molecular structure controls the mineralization of calcium phosphate nanoparticles and their immunostimulation efficacy as vaccine adjuvants†
The co-precipitation of calcium phosphate nanoparticles (CaPs) in the presence of nucleotide chains such as polynucleotides (i.e., plasmid DNA and siRNA) and oligonucleotides has been extensively used for pre-clinical gene or drug delivery and immunotherapy studies. However, the exact role of these molecules in mineralization and tuning the physicochemical characteristics of the synthesized CaPs is still not entirely clear. In this study, we evaluated the effects of three different CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) and two representative nucleic acids (siRNA and DNA), when used as templates for the formation of CaPs. We examined the influence of CpGs with naturally-occurring phosphodiester or modified phosphorothioate backbones on the homogeneous formation of CaPs from a modified simulated body fluid solution. The hydrodynamic size, size polydispersity, morphology and surface charge of the CaPs were used as the most critical checkpoints to unravel the involved mechanisms. Our results show that the characteristics of CaPs are highly dependent on the composition, backbone, sequence and concentrations of the CpGs. The CpG type and concentration control the size distribution of the mineralized CaPs and their immunostimulation performance as verified by the activation of dendritic cells and secretion of the pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 (IL-6) cytokine, type I interferon-α (IFN-α) and co-stimulatory CD80, CD86 and CD40 markers. This study paves the way for better design of more efficient CaPs loaded with different types of CpGs for immunostimulation applications as vaccine adjuvants.