Formulation and characterisation of cationic microparticles for the delivery of DNA vaccines

  • Sarah F. Atkinson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aim of this research was to formulate a novel biodegradable, biocompatible cationic microparticle vector for the delivery of DNA vaccines. The work builds upon previous research by Singh et al which described the adsorption of DNA to the surface of poly (D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG) microparticles stabilised with the surfactant cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CT AB). This work demonstrated the induction of antibody and cellular immune responses to HIV proteins encoded on plasmid DNA adsorbed to the particle surface in mice, guinea pigs and non-human primates (Singh et aI, 2000; O'Hagan et aI, 2001). However, the use of surfactants in microparticle formulations for human vaccination is undesirable due to long term safety issues. Therefore, the present research aim was to develop an adsorbed DNA vaccine with enhanced potency and increased safety compared to CTAB stabilised PLG microparticles (PLG/CTAB) by replacement of the surfactant CTAB with an alternative cationic agent. The cationic polymers chitosan and poly (N- vinylpyrrolidone/2-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate), dimethyl sulfate quaternary (PVP-PDAEMA) were investigated as alternative stabilisers to CTAB.
From a variety of initial formulations, the most promising vector(s) for DNA vaccination were selected based on physicochemical data (chapter 3) and in vitro DNA loading and release characteristics (chapter 4). The chosen formulation(s) were analysed in greater depth (chapters 3 and 4), and gene expression was assessed by in vitro cell transfection studies using 293T kidney epithelial and C2C12 myoblast non-phagocytic cell lines (chapter 5). The cytotoxicity of the microparticles and their constituents were also evaluated in vitro (chapter 5). Stability and suitability of the formulation(s) for commercial production were assessed by cryopreparation and lyophilisation studies (chapters 3 and 4). Gene expression levels in cells of the immune response were evaluated by microparticle transfection of the dendritic cell (DC) line 2.4 and primary bone marrow derived DCs (chapter 6). In vivo, mice were injected i.m. with the formulations deemed most promising on the basis of in vitro studies and humoral and cellular immune responses were evaluated (chapter 6).

Date of AwardMar 2004
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAllan G.A. Coombes (Supervisor)


  • poly (D,L lactide-co-glycolide)
  • chitosan
  • DNA delivery

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