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Rev Med Virol. 2003 Sep-Oct;13(5):293-310.

New generation of mucosal adjuvants for the induction of protective immunity.

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Division of Mucosal Immunology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Invasion of infectious agents through mucosal surfaces can be prevented by use of the common mucosal immune system (CMIS), which interconnects inductive tissues, including Peyer's patches (PPs) and nasopharyngeal-associated lymphoreticular tissue (NALT), and effector tissues of the intestinal and respiratory tracts. In order for the CMIS to induce maximal protective mucosal immunity, co-administration of mucosal adjuvant has been shown to be essential. When vaccine antigen is administered together with mucosal adjuvant, antigen-specific T-helper (Th) 1 and Th2 cells, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and IgA B cell responses are effectively induced by oral or nasal routes via the CMIS. In the early stages of induction of mucosal immune response, the uptake of orally or nasally administered antigens is achieved through a unique set of antigen-sampling cells, M cells located in follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) of inductive sites. After successful uptake, the antigens are immediately processed and presented by the underlying dendritic cells (DCs). Elucidation of the molecular/cellular characteristics of M cells and mucosal DCs will greatly facilitate the design of a new generation of effective mucosal adjuvants and of a vaccine delivery vehicle that maximises the use of the CMIS. Our recent efforts at mucosal vaccine development have focused on nasal administration of vaccine antigen together with nontoxic mutant-based or cytokine-/chemokine-based adjuvant for the induction of the protective immunity. To this end, a chimeric form of a nontoxic adjuvant combining the merits of mutant cholera toxin A subunit (mCT-A) and heat labile toxin B subunit (LT-B) was created as the second generation of detoxified toxin-based mucosal adjuvant. When a vaccine antigen was coexpressed together with an immune stimulatory/delivery molecule in crop seed, this edible vaccine is not only effective but also extremely practical in that it can be produced in huge quantities and preserved and shipped over long distances at room temperature without altering the quality of the vaccine. Because such qualities would greatly facilitate global vaccination, this new generation edible vaccines with a built-in adjuvant and/or M cell-targeted edible vaccine promises to be a powerful weapon for combating infectious diseases and bioterrorism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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