Covalent complexes of antigen and alpha(2)-macroglobulin: evidence for dramatically-increased immunogenicity

Vaccine. 2001 Nov 12;20(3-4):554-62. doi: 10.1016/s0264-410x(01)00361-9.


A safe, effective, more potent adjuvant than currently available would be beneficial in developing new therapeutics and diagnostic reagents. We report here a technique for the rapid, efficient incorporation of non-proteolytic antigens into alpha(2)-macroglobulin (alpha(2)M; tradename, SynerVax), allowing us to covalently couple much larger subunit antigens to alpha(2)M than previously possible. Our goal was to determine if incorporation of HB, the monomeric form of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen (HBsAg), into alpha(2)M would result in increased immune reactivity. Earlier attempts to immunize animals using HB did not generate significant levels of antibodies. Using HB complexes prepared with alpha(2)M we now report dramatically-increased immunogenicity of HB in BALB/c mice. Combining these soluble complexes with a depot-generating agent (alum), titers>1:1,000,000 are obtained with a single injection. This novel adjuvant technology should provide a valuable tool for the development of either prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines, or monoclonal antibodies against hitherto poorly-immunogenic subunit antigens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / immunology
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / chemistry
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / immunology
  • Immunization
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Vaccines, Subunit / immunology
  • alpha-Macroglobulins / administration & dosage*


  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Subunit
  • alpha-Macroglobulins