Applications of nanomaterials as vaccine adjuvants

Motao Zhu, Rongfu Wang, Guangjun Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Vaccine adjuvants are applied to amplify the recipient's specific immune responses against pathogen infection or malignancy. A new generation of adjuvants is being developed to meet the demands for more potent antigen-specific responses, specific types of immune responses, and a high margin of safety. Nanotechnology provides a multifunctional stage for the integration of desired adjuvant activities performed by the building blocks of tailor-designed nanoparticles. Using nanomaterials for antigen delivery can provide high bioavailability, sustained and controlled release profiles, and targeting and imaging properties resulting from manipulation of the nanomaterials' physicochemical properties. Moreover, the inherent immune-regulating activity of particular nanomaterials can further promote and shape the cellular and humoral immune responses toward desired types. The combination of both the delivery function and immunomodulatory effect of nanomaterials as adjuvants is thought to largely benefit the immune outcomes of vaccination. In this review, we will address the current achievements of nanotechnology in the development of novel adjuvants. The potential mechanisms by which nanomaterials impact the immune responses to a vaccine and how physicochemical properties, including size, surface charge and surface modification, impact their resulting immunological outcomes will be discussed. This review aims to provide concentrated information to promote new insights for the development of novel vaccine adjuvants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA45
Pages (from-to)2761-2774
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Antigen delivery
  • Immune response
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nanotechnology
  • Vaccine adjuvant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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