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Hyaluronan is a natural and effective immunological adjuvant for protein-based vaccines

Authors: Dalla Pietà, Anna; Carpanese, Debora; Grigoletto, Antonella; Tosi, Anna; Dalla Santa, Silvia; Pedersen, Gabriel Kristian; Christensen, Dennis; Meléndez-Alafort, Laura; Barbieri, Vito; De Benedictis, Paola; Pasut, Gianfranco; Montagner, Isabella Monia; Rosato, Antonio

Online: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41423-021-00667-y

Issue: Cell Mol Immunol . 2021 May;18(5):1197-1210.


One of the main goals of vaccine research is the development of adjuvants that can enhance immune responses and are both safe and biocompatible. We explored the application of the natural polymer hyaluronan (HA) as a promising immunological adjuvant for protein-based vaccines. Chemical conjugation of HA to antigens strongly increased their immunogenicity, reduced booster requirements, and allowed antigen dose sparing. HA-based bioconjugates stimulated robust and long-lasting humoral responses without the addition of other immunostimulatory compounds and proved highly efficient when compared to other adjuvants. Due to its intrinsic biocompatibility, HA allowed the exploitation of different injection routes and did not induce inflammation at the inoculation site. This polymer promoted rapid translocation of the antigen to draining lymph nodes, thus facilitating encounters with antigen-presenting cells. Overall, HA can be regarded as an effective and biocompatible adjuvant to be exploited for the design of a wide variety of vaccines.