Journal of virology

Aluminum hydroxide influences not only the extent but also the fine specificity and functional activity of antibody responses to tick-borne encephalitis virus in mice.

PMID 24006434


Aluminum hydroxide is the most widely used adjuvant in human vaccines and serves as a potent enhancer of antibody production. Its stimulatory effect strongly depends on the adsorption of the antigen to the adjuvant, which may influence antigen presentation and, as a consequence, the fine specificity of antibody responses. Such variations can have functional consequences and can modulate the effectiveness of humoral immunity. Therefore, we investigated the influence of aluminum hydroxide on the fine specificity of antibody responses in a model study in mice using an inactivated purified virus particle, the flavivirus tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus, as an immunogen. To dissect and quantify the specificities of polyclonal antibodies in postimmunization sera, we established a platform of immunoassays using recombinant forms of the major target of neutralizing antibodies (protein E) as well as individual domains of E (DIII and the combination of DI and DII [DI+DII]). Our analyses revealed a higher proportion of neutralizing than virion binding (as detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) antibodies after immunization with aluminum hydroxide. Furthermore, the induction of antibodies to DIII, a known target of potently neutralizing antibodies, as well as their contributions to virus neutralization were significantly greater in mice immunized with adjuvant and correlated with a higher avidity of these antibodies. Thus, our data provide evidence that aluminum hydroxide can lead to functionally relevant modulations of antibody fine specificities in addition to its known overall immune enhancement effect.

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Aluminum hydroxide, reagent grade