Influenza is a major challenge to healthcare systems world-wide. While prophylactic vaccination is largely efficient, long-lasting immunity has not been achieved in immunized populations, at least in part due to the challenges arising from the antigen variation between strains of influenza A virus as a consequence of genetic drift and shift.
From progress in our understanding of the immune system, the mode-of-action of vaccines can be divided into the stimulation of the adaptive system through inclusion of appropriate vaccine antigens and of the innate immune system by the addition of adjuvant to the vaccine formulation. A shared property of many vaccine adjuvants is found in their nature of water-insoluble precipitates, for instance the particulate material made from aluminum salts.
Previously, it was thought that embedding of vaccine antigens in these materials provided a ‘depot’ of antigens enabling a long exposure of the immune system to the antigen. However, more recent work points to a role of particulate adjuvants in stimulating cellular parts of the innate immune system.
Here, we briefly outline the infectious medicine and immune biology of influenza virus infection and procedures to provide sufficient and stably available amounts of vaccine antigen. This is followed by presentation of the many roles of adjuvants, which involve humoral factors of innate immunity, notably complement.
In a perspective of the ultra-structural properties of these humoral factors, it becomes possible to rationalize why these insoluble precipitates or emulsions are such a provocation of the immune system. We propose that the biophysics of particulate material may hold opportunities that could aid the development of more efficient influenza vaccines.
Source: 7th Space Interactive