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Trop Dis Travel Med Vaccines. 2017 Feb 17;3:4. doi: 10.1186/s40794-017-0047-z. eCollection 2017.

The salivary gland as a target for enhancing immunization response.

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Naval Medical Research Center, 503 Robert Grant Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA.
Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA.
Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27157 USA.
Hefner Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salisbury, NC UK.



An organism's immune response to a vaccine is dependent on a number of factors, including the site of immunization. While muscle is the most common site for vaccine administration, other sites, including the salivary gland, are poised to confer stronger and broader immunoprotection.


Studies exploring the salivary gland as an immunization site have involved protein antigens, as well as live pathogens and DNA vaccines. While intraductal instillation of protein antigens into the salivary gland may result in a relatively transient increase in antibody production, DNA or attenuated pathogen vaccination appear to confer a lasting widespread mucosal immune response that includes robust salivary and enteric IgA, as well as high levels of circulating IgG. Furthermore, vaginal and lung antibodies are also seen. For enteric pathogens, a common class of pathogen encountered by travelers, this type of immune response provides for a level of redundant protection against foreign microbes with mucosal targets.


The strength of immune response conferred by salivary gland vaccination is generally stronger than that seen in response to the same vaccine at a comparison site. For example, where other routes fail, immunization of the salivary gland has been shown to confer protection in lethal challenge models of infectious pathogens. A host of vaccines currently under development suffer from immunogenicity challenges, adding to the widespread interest and search for novel routes and adjuvants. With its capability to facilitate a strong and broad immune response, the salivary gland warrants consideration as an immunization site, especially for vaccines with immunogenicity challenges, as well as vaccines that would benefit from combined systemic and mucosal immunity.


Enteric vaccine; Immunization; Intramuscular; Mucosal immunity; Salivary gland; Vaccine

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