Association of chitosan and aluminium as a new adjuvant strategy for improved vaccination

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The use of particulate adjuvants offers an interesting possibility to enhance and modulate the immune responses elicited by vaccines. Aluminium salts have been extensively used as vaccine adjuvants, but they lack the capacity to induce a strong cellular and mucosal immune response. Taking this into consideration, in this study we designed a new antigen delivery system combining aluminium salts with chitosan. Chitosan-aluminium nanoparticles (CH-Al NPs) exhibited a mean diameter of 280 nm and a positive surface charge. The newly developed CH-Al NPs are more stable at physiological environment than classical CH NPs, showing no cytotoxic effects and revealing potential as a delivery system for a wide range of model antigens. In vivo studies showed that mice immunized with hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-containing CH NPs display high anti-HBsAg IgG titers in the serum, as well as the highest antigen-specific IgG on vaginal washes. Furthermore, in contrast to mice receiving antigen alone, mice immunized with the particulate adjuvant were able to elicit IgG2c antibody titers and exhibited higher antigen-specific IFN-γ levels in splenocytes. In conclusion, we established that CH-Al NPs, combining two immunostimulants to enhance both humoral and cellular immune responses, are a safe and promising system for antigen delivery. Our findings point towards their potential in future vaccination approaches.

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