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Vaccine. 2011 Mar 16;29(13):2461-73. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.01.011. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Adjuvant System AS03 containing α-tocopherol modulates innate immune response and leads to improved adaptive immunity.

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Research & Development, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, Rixensart, Belgium.


AS03 is an Adjuvant System (AS) containing α-tocopherol and squalene in an oil-in-water (o/w) emulsion. AS03 has been considered for the development of pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines. Key features of AS03's mode of action were investigated in vivo in mice and ex vivo in human cells. AS03's adjuvant activity was superior to that of aluminium hydroxide and required the spatio-temporal co-localisation of AS03 with the antigen. This requirement coincided with AS03 triggering a transient production of cytokines at the injection site and in the draining lymph nodes (dLNs). The nature of the cytokines produced was consistent with the enhanced recruitment of granulocytes and of antigen-loaded monocytes in the dLNs. The presence of α-tocopherol in AS03 was required for AS03 to achieve the highest antibody response. The presence of α-tocopherol also modulated the expression of some cytokines, including CCL2, CCL3, IL-6, CSF3 and CXCL1; increased the antigen loading in monocytes; and increased the recruitment of granulocytes in the dLNs. Hence, AS03's promotion of monocytes as the principal antigen-presenting cells, and its effects on granulocytes and cytokines, may all contribute to enhancing the antigen-specific adaptive immune response.

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