We developed an orally delivered nanoemulsion that induces cancer immunization. It consists of tumor antigen-loaded nano-vesicles carrying the potent invariant natural killer T-cell (iNKT) activator α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer), to trigger cancer immunity by effectively activating both innate and adaptive immunity. It was validated that adding bile salts to the system boosted intestinal lymphatic transport as well as the oral bioavailability of ovalbumin (OVA) via the chylomicron pathway. To increase intestinal permeability further and amplify the antitumor responses, an ionic complex of cationic lipid 1,2-dioleyl-3-trimethylammonium propane (DTP) with sodium deoxycholate (DA) (DDP) and α-GalCer were anchored onto the outer oil layer to form OVA-NE#3. As expected, OVA-NE#3 exhibited tremendously improved intestinal cell permeability as well as enhanced delivery to mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs). Subsequent activation of dendritic cells and iNKTs, in MLNs were also observed. Tumor growth in OVA-expressing mice with melanoma was more strongly suppressed (by 71%) after oral administration of OVA-NE#3 than in untreated controls, confirming the strong immune response induced by the system. The serum levels of OVA-specific IgG1 and IgG2a were 3.52- and 6.14-fold higher than in controls. Treating OVA-NE#3 increased the numbers of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, including cytotoxic T-cell and M1-like macrophage. Antigen- and α-GalCer-associated enrichment of dendritic cells and iNKTs in tumor tissues also increased after OVA-NE#3 treatment. These observations indicate that our system induces both cellular and humoral immunity by targeting the oral lymphatic system. It may offer a promising oral anti-cancer vaccination strategy that involves the induction of systemic anti-cancer immunization.
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