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Synthesis of a hemin-containing copolymer as a novel immunostimulator that induces IFN-gamma production

Authors Hoshi K, Yamazaki T, Yoshikawa C, Tsugawa W, Ikebukuro K, Sode K

Received 26 February 2018

Accepted for publication 12 May 2018

Published 2 August 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 4461—4472

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S166259

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Alexander Kharlamov

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas J Webster


Kazuaki Hoshi,1 Tomohiko Yamazaki,2 Chiaki Yoshikawa,3 Wakako Tsugawa,1 Kazunori Ikebukuro,1 Koji Sode1,4

1Department of Biotechnology and Life Science, Graduate School of Engineering, Tokyo University of Agriculture & Technology, Koganei, Tokyo, Japan; 2Research Center for Functional Materials, National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan; 3International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA), National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan; 4Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Background: Hemozoin, a chemical analog of a malarial pigment, is a crystal composed of heme dimers that can act as a potent Th1-type adjuvant, which strongly induces antibody production. However, the clinical applications of malarial hemozoin have limitations due to biosafety concerns and difficulties in the manufacturing process. Based on the premise that an analog of the heme polymer might display immunostimulatory effects, a hemin-containing polymer was developed as a novel immunostimulator.
Materials and methods: To synthesize the copolymer containing hemin and N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM), this study employed a conventional radical polymerization method using 2,2'-azodiisobutyronitrile as the radical initiator; the synthesized copolymer was designated as NIPAM-hemin.
Results: NIPAM-hemin was soluble and showed no cytotoxicity in vitro. The NIPAM-hemin copolymer induced the production of interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-6 from peripheral blood mononuclear cells, although hemin and the NIPAM monomer individually did not induce the production of any cytokines. The production of IFN-γ induced by NIPAM-hemin was independent of toll-like receptor 9 and the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway.
Conclusion: Given that NIPAM-hemin induced IL-6 and IFN-γ production in immune cells without any cytotoxic effects, NIPAM-hemin has potential therapeutic applications as a Th1-type adjuvant.

Keywords: hemin copolymer, immunostimulator, adjuvant, radical polymerization, NIPAM, toll-like receptor 9, T-helper 1, inflammasome

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