Immunomodulators as Adjuvants for Vaccines and Antimicrobial Therapy

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Dec;1213:46-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05787.x. Epub 2010 Oct 4.


A highly effective strategy for combating infectious diseases is to enhance host defenses using immunomodulators, either preventatively, through vaccination, or therapeutically. The effectiveness of many vaccines currently in use is due in part to adjuvants, molecules that have little immunogenicity by themselves but which help enhance and appropriately skew the immune response to an antigen. The development of new vaccines necessitates the development of new types of adjuvants to ensure an appropriate immune response. Herein, we review commonly used vaccine adjuvants and discuss promising adjuvant candidates. We also discuss various other immunomodulators (namely cytokines, Toll-like receptor agonists, and host defense peptides) that are, or have potential to be, useful for antimicrobial therapies that exert their effects by boosting host immune responses rather than targeting pathogens directly.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / immunology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Immunity / immunology
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Models, Immunological
  • Vaccines / immunology
  • Vaccines / therapeutic use*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Vaccines