Formulation and the characterisation of cationic liposomal adjuvants for the delivery of a promising subunit tuberculosis vaccine

  • Mohammed Hussain

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Cationic liposomes of dimethyldioctadecylammonium bromide (DDA) incorporating the glycolipid trehalose 6,6-dibehenate (TDB) forms a promising liposomal vaccine adjuvant. To be exploited as effective subunit vaccine delivery systems, the physicochemical characteristics of liposomes were studied in detail and correlated with their effectiveness in vivo, in an attempt to elucidate key aspects controlling their efficacy. This research took the previously optimised DDA-TDB system as a foundation for a range of formulations incorporating additional lipids of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) or 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC), by incrementally replacing the cationic content within DDA-TDB or reducing the total DDA-TDB dose upon its substitution, to ascertain the role of DDA and the effect of DDA-TDB concentration in influencing the resultant immunological performance upon delivery of the novel subunit TB vaccine, Ag85B–ESAT-6-Rv2660c (H56 vaccine).
With the aim of using the DPPC based systems for pulmonary vaccine delivery and the DSPC systems for application via the intramuscular route, initial work focused on physicochemical characterisation of the systems with incorporation of DPPC or DSPC displaying comparable physical stability, morphological structure and levels of antigen retention to that of DDA-TDB. Thermodynamic analysis was also conducted to detect main phase transition temperatures and subsequent in vitro cell culture studies demonstrated a favourable reduction in cytotoxicity, stimulation of phagocytic activity and macrophage activation in response to the proposed liposomal immunoadjuvants.
Immunisation of mice with H56 vaccine via the proposed liposomal adjuvants showed that DDA was an important factor in mediating resultant immune responses, with partial replacement or substitution of DDA-TDB stimulating Th1 type cellular immunity characterised by elevated levels of IgG2b antibodies and IFN-? and IL-2 cytokines, essential for providing protective efficacy against TB. Upon increased DSPC content within the formulation, either by DDA replacement or reduction of DDA and TDB, responses were skewed towards Th2 type immunity with reduced IgG2b antibody levels and elevated IL-5 and IL-10 cytokine production, as resultant immunological responses were independent of liposomal zeta potential.
The role of the cationic DDA lipid and the effect of DDA-TDB concentration were appreciated as the proposed liposomal formulations elicited antigen specific antibody and cellular immune responses, demonstrating the potential of cationic liposomes to be utilised as adjuvants for subunit vaccine delivery. Furthermore, the promising capability of the novel H56 vaccine candidate in eliciting protection against TB was apparent in a mouse model.
Date of Award6 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorYvonne Perrie (Supervisor)


  • cationic liposomes
  • adjuvant
  • subunit vaccine
  • immunisation
  • tuberculosis

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