Alum boosts TH2-type antibody responses to whole-inactivated virus influenza vaccine in mice but does not confer superior protection

Vaccine. 2008 May 2;26(19):2350-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.02.063. Epub 2008 Mar 18.


Clinical trials with pandemic influenza vaccine candidates have focused on aluminium hydroxide as an adjuvant to boost humoral immune responses. In this study we investigated the effect of aluminium hydroxide on the magnitude and type of immune response induced by whole-inactivated virus (WIV) vaccine. Balb/c mice were immunized once with a range of antigen doses (0.04-5 microg) of WIV produced from A/PR/8 virus, either alone or in combination with aluminium hydroxide. The hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers of mice receiving WIV+aluminium hydroxide were 4-16-fold higher than HI titers in mice receiving the same dose of WIV alone, indicating the boosting effect of aluminium hydroxide. WIV induced a TH1 skewed humoral and cellular immune response, characterized by strong influenza-specific IgG2a responses and a high number of IFNgamma-secreting T cells. In contrast, immunization with WIV adsorbed to aluminium hydroxide resulted in skewing of this response to a TH2 phenotype (high IgG1 levels and a low number of IFNgamma-producing T cells). To assess the effect of the observed immune response skewing on viral clearance from the lungs mice immunized once with 1 microg WIV without or with aluminium hydroxide were challenged with A/PR/8 virus 4 weeks later. The immunized mice showed a significant decrease in viral lung titers compared to control mice receiving buffer. However, despite higher antibody titers, mice immunized with WIV adsorbed to aluminium hydroxide suffered from more severe weight loss and had significantly higher virus loads in their lung tissue than mice receiving WIV alone. Major difference between these groups of mice was the type of immune response induced, TH2 instead of TH1, indicating that a TH1 response plays a major role in viral clearance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / administration & dosage
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Hemagglutination Inhibition Tests
  • Immunization, Secondary*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Lung / virology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / prevention & control
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / immunology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Inactivated
  • Aluminum Hydroxide
  • Interferon-gamma