Pathogenic epitopes, heterologous immunity and vaccine design

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Jul;5(7):555-63. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1709.


Substantial research has been directed towards the development of a new generation of vaccines that are based on the inclusion of immunogenic epitopes in recombinant vectors. Here we examine the evidence that under certain conditions immunogenic epitopes can do more harm than good and might therefore be considered pathogenic. We suggest that the specific removal of such pathogenic epitopes from vaccines might increase their prophylactic potential, while minimizing the risk of side-effects from vaccine use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross Reactions
  • Drug Design*
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control
  • Viruses / immunology*


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Viral Vaccines