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J Control Release. 2013 Mar 10;166(2):159-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2012.12.002. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Stability of whole inactivated influenza virus vaccine during coating onto metal microneedles.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Immunization using a microneedle patch coated with vaccine offers the promise of simplified vaccination logistics and increased vaccine immunogenicity. This study examined the stability of influenza vaccine during the microneedle coating process, with a focus on the role of coating formulation excipients. Thick, uniform coatings were obtained using coating formulations containing a viscosity enhancer and surfactant, but these formulations retained little functional vaccine hemagglutinin (HA) activity after coating. Vaccine coating in a trehalose-only formulation retained about 40-50% of vaccine activity, which is a significant improvement. The partial viral activity loss observed in the trehalose-only formulation was hypothesized to come from osmotic pressure-induced vaccine destabilization. We found that inclusion of a viscosity enhancer, carboxymethyl cellulose, overcame this effect and retained full vaccine activity on both washed and plasma-cleaned titanium surfaces. The addition of polymeric surfactant, Lutrol® micro 68, to the trehalose formulation generated phase transformations of the vaccine coating, such as crystallization and phase separation, which was correlated to additional vaccine activity loss, especially when coating on hydrophilic, plasma-cleaned titanium. Again, the addition of a viscosity enhancer suppressed the surfactant-induced phase transformations during drying, which was confirmed by in vivo assessment of antibody response and survival rate after immunization in mice. We conclude that trehalose and a viscosity enhancer are beneficial coating excipients, but the inclusion of surfactant is detrimental to vaccine stability.

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