Immune response to antigen adsorbed to aluminum hydroxide particles: Effects of co-adsorption of ALF or ALFQ adjuvant to the aluminum-antigen complex

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Aluminum salts have been used as vaccine adjuvants for >50 years, and they are currently present in at least 146 licensed vaccines worldwide. In this study we examined whether adsorption of Army Liposome Formulation (ALF) to an aluminum salt that already has an antigen adsorbed to it might result in improved immune potency of the aluminum-adsorbed antigen. ALF is composed of a family of anionic liposome-based adjuvants, in which the liposomes contain synthetic phospholipids having dimyristoyl fatty acyl groups, cholesterol and monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA). For certain candidate vaccines, ALF has been added to aluminum hydroxide (AH) gel as a second adjuvant to form ALFA. Here we show that different methods of preparation of ALF changed the physical structures of both ALF and ALFA. Liposomes containing the saponin QS21 (ALFQ) have also been mixed with AH to form ALFQA as an effective combination. In this study, we first adsorbed one of two different antigens to AH, either tetanus toxoid conjugated to 34 copies of a hapten (MorHap), which has been used in a candidate heroin vaccine, or gp140 protein derived from the envelope protein of HIV-1. We then co-adsorbed ALF or ALFQ to the AH to form ALFA or ALFQA. In each case, the immune potency of the antigen adsorbed to AH was greatly increased by co-adsorbing either ALF or ALFQ to the AH. Based on IgG subtype and cytokine analysis by ELISPOT, ALFA induced predominately a Th2-type response and ALFQ and ALFQA each induced more balanced Th1/Th2 responses.Graphical abstract

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