Particulate carriers as immunological adjuvants

  • Antonio J.L. Almeida

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In recent years, much interest has focused on the significance of inducing not only systemic immunity but also good local immunity at susceptible mucosal surfaces. A new field of mucosal immunity has been established as information accumulates on gut-associated lymphoid tissue, bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue and nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT, BALT and NALT, respectively) and on their role in both local and systemic immune responses. This project, following the line of investigation started by other workers, was designed to study the use of microspheres to deliver antigens by the mucosal routes (oral and nasal). Antigen-containing microspheres were prepared with PLA and PLGA, by either entrapment within the particles or adsorption onto the surface. The model protein antigens used in this work were mainly tetanus toxoid (TT), bovine serum albumin (BSA) and γ-globulins.In vitro investigations included the study of physicochemical properties of the particulate carriers as well as the assessment of stability of the antigen molecules throughout the formulation procedures. Good loading efficiencies were obtained with both formulation techniques, which did not affect the immunogenicity of the antigens studied. The influence of the surfactant employed on the microspheres' surface properties was demonstrated as well as its implications on the adsorption of proteins. Preparations containing protein adsorbed were shown to be slightly more hydrophobic than empty PLA microspheres, which can enhance the uptake of particles by the antigen presenting cells that prefer to associate with hydrophobic surfaces. Systemic and mucosal immune responses induced upon nasal, oral and intramuscular administration have been assessed and, when appropriate, compared with the most widely used vaccine adjuvant, aluminium hydroxide. The results indicate that association of TT with PLA microspheres through microencapsulation or adsorption procedures led to an enhancement of specific mucosal IgA and IgG and systemic IgG responses to the mucosal delivered antigens. Particularly, nasal
administration of TT produced significantly higher serum levels of specific IgG in test animals, as compared to control groups, suggesting that this is a potential route for vaccination. This implies the uptake and transfer of particles through the nasal mucosa, which was further demonstrated by the presence in the blood stream of latex particles as early as 10 min after nasal administration.
Date of AwardSept 1993
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorH.O. Alpar (Supervisor) & Michael R W Brown (Supervisor)


  • microencapsulation
  • microspheres
  • vaccines
  • drug delivery
  • tetanus toxoid

Cite this