Most subunit vaccines require adjuvants in order to induce protective immune responses to the targeted pathogen. However, many of the potent immunogenic adjuvants display unacceptable local or systemic reactogenicity. Liposomes are spherical vesicles consisting of single (unilamellar) or multiple (multilamellar) phospholipid bi-layers. The lipid membranes are interleaved with an aqueous buffer, which can be utilised to deliver hydrophilic vaccine components, such as protein antigens or ligands for immune receptors. Liposomes, in particular cationic DDA:TDB vesicles, have been shown in animal models to induce strong humoral responses to the associated antigen without increased reactogenicity, and are currently being tested in Phase I human clinical trials. We explored several modifications of DDA:TDB liposomes--including size, antigen association and addition of TLR agonists--to assess their immunogenic capacity as vaccine adjuvants, using Ovalbumin (OVA) protein as a model protein vaccine. Following triple homologous immunisation, small unilamellar vesicles (SUVs) with no TLR agonists showed a significantly higher capacity for inducing spleen CD8 IFNγ responses against OVA in comparison with the larger multilamellar vesicles (MLVs). Antigen-specific antibody reponses were also higher with SUVs. Addition of the TLR3 and TLR9 agonists significantly increased the adjuvanting capacity of MLVs and OVA-encapsulating dehydration-rehydration vesicles (DRVs), but not of SUVs. Our findings lend further support to the use of liposomes as protein vaccine adjuvants. Importantly, the ability of DDA:TDB SUVs to induce potent CD8 T cell responses without the need for adding immunostimulators would avoid the potential safety risks associated with the clinical use of TLR agonists in vaccines adjuvanted with liposomes.
- humoral responses