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J Pharm Sci. 2011 Feb;100(2):388-401. doi: 10.1002/jps.22284. Epub 2010 Aug 25.

Vaccines with aluminum-containing adjuvants: optimizing vaccine efficacy and thermal stability.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Science, University of Colorado at Denver, Aurora, Colorado 80045, USA.


Aluminum-containing adjuvants have been used to enhance the immune response against killed, inactivated, and subunit antigens for more than seven decades. Nevertheless, we are only beginning to gain important insight as to what may be some very fundamental parameters for optimizing their use. For example, there is evidence that the conventional approach of maximizing antigen binding (amount and/or strength) may not result in an optimal immune response. Adsorption of antigen onto the adjuvant has recently been suggested to decrease the thermal stability of some antigens; however, whether adsorption-induced alterations to the structure and/or stability of the antigen have consequences for the elicited immune response is unclear. Finally, the thermal stability of vaccines with aluminum-containing adjuvants is not robust. Optimizing the stability of these vaccines requires an understanding of the freeze sensitivity of the adjuvant, freeze and heat sensitivity of the antigen in the presence of the adjuvant, and perhaps most important, how (or whether) various approaches to formulation can be used to address these instabilities. This review attempts to summarize recent findings regarding issues that may dictate the success of vaccines with aluminum-containing adjuvants.

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