Elucidating the mechanisms of protein antigen adsorption to the CAF/NAF liposomal vaccine adjuvant systems: Effect of charge, fluidity and antigen-to-lipid ratio

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The reverse vaccinology approach has recently resulted in the identification of promising protein antigens, which in combination with appropriate adjuvants can stimulate customized, protective immune responses. Although antigen adsorption to adjuvants influences vaccine efficacy and safety, little is generally known about how antigens and adjuvants interact at the molecular level. The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanisms of interactions between the equally sized, but oppositely charged model protein antigens α-lactalbumin and lysozyme, and i) the clinically tested cationic liposomal adjuvant CAF01 composed of cationic dimethyldioctadecylammonium (DDA) bromide and trehalose-6,6'-dibehenate (TDB) or ii) the neutral adjuvant formulation NAF01, where DDA was replaced with zwitterionic distearoylphosphatidylcholine (DSPC). The effect of liposome charge, bilayer rigidity, isoelectric point and antigen-to-lipid ratio was investigated using dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, intrinsic fluorescence and Langmuir monolayers. The net anionic α-lactalbumin adsorbed onto the cationic liposomes, while there was no measureable attractive interaction with the zwitterionic liposomes. In contrast, the net cationic lysozyme showed very little interaction with either types of liposome. Adsorption of α-lactalbumin altered its tertiary structure, affected lipid membrane packing below and above the phase transition temperature, and neutralized the liposomal surface charge, resulting in reduced colloidal stability and liposome aggregation. Langmuir studies revealed that α-lactalbumin was not squeezed out of DDA monolayers upon compression, which suggests additional hydrophobic interactions. Such interactions are thus likely to affect the way vaccine antigens are presented to antigen-presenting cells, and may play an important role for the efficacy of the vaccine-induced immune response. These studies thus exemplify the importance of characterizing the molecular interactions between the vaccine antigen and adjuvant along with immunogenicity and efficacy studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBBA General Subjects
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2001-2010
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2014

ID: 111431227