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Reumatismo. 2012 Dec 20;64(6):380-7. doi: 10.4081/reumatismo.2012.380.

Vaccination of mice for research purpose: alum is as effective as and safer than complete Freund adjuvant.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Padua, Padova, Italy.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease involving many organ systems. Glomerulonephritis (GLN) is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in SLE. It has recently been demonstrated that adjuvants of vaccines could cause the so called ASIA syndrome. The study aimed to assess the effects of Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) vs alum injections in NZB/NZWF1 mice. Mice (n=10 each group) were injected with a total volume of 200 μL of: CFA in PBS (group 1), alum in PBS (group 2), PBS (group 3) as controls, PTX3/CFA (group 4), PTX3/alum (group 5), 3 times, 3 weeks apart /given in each injection, three weeks apart from ten weeks of age. Urine samples were collected weekly to evaluate proteinuria. Blood samples were collected before every injection, at 21 weeks of age, and at death to evaluate levels of anti-PTX3 and anti-dsDNA. Proteinuria free survival and survival rates were analyzed by the Kaplan-Meier method using Mantel-Cox's test for comparisons. CFA-treated mice developed both anti-dsDNA antibodies and proteinuria earlier and at higher levels than alumtreated and PBS-injected mice, starting from 13 weeks of age. Proteinuria free survival rates (proteinuria ≥ 300 mg/dL) and survival rates were lower in CFA-treated mice than those treated with alum or injected with PBS (P<0.001 for all). No difference was observed between the alum-treated group and PBS-injected mice. Notably, groups 4 and 5, immunized with PTX3, developed anti-PTX3 antibodies and no significant difference was observed. Alum seems to be as effective as and safer than CFA as adjuvant, since it did not affect disease progression in immunized NZB/NZWF1 mice.

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