Delta inulin: a novel, immunologically active, stable packing structure comprising β-D-[2 -> 1] poly(fructo-furanosyl) α-D-glucose polymers

Glycobiology. 2011 May;21(5):595-606. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwq201. Epub 2010 Dec 7.


We report a novel isoform of β-D-[2 → 1] poly(fructo-furanosyl) α-D-glucose termed delta inulin (DI), comparing it with previously described alpha (AI), beta (BI) and gamma (GI) isoforms. In vitro, DI is the most immunologically active weight/weight in human complement activation and in binding to monocytes and regulating their chemokine production and cell surface protein expression. In vivo, this translates into potent immune adjuvant activity, enhancing humoral and cellular responses against co-administered antigens. As a biocompatible polysaccharide particle, DI is safe and well tolerated by subcutaneous or intramuscular injection. Physico-chemically, DI forms as an insoluble precipitate from an aqueous solution of suitable AI, BI or GI held at 37-48°C, whereas the precipitate from the same solution at lower temperatures has the properties of AI or GI. DI can also be produced by heat conversion of GI suspensions at 56°C, whereas GI is converted from AI at 45°C. DI is distinguished from GI by its higher temperature of solution in dilute aqueous suspension and by its lower solubility in dimethyl sulfoxide, both consistent with greater hydrogen bonding in DI's polymer packing structure. DI suspensions can be dissolved by heat, re-precipitated by cooling as AI and finally re-converted back to DI by repeated heat treatment. Thus, DI, like the previously described inulin isoforms, reflects the formation of a distinct polymer aggregate packing structure via reversible noncovalent bonding. DI forms the basis for a potent new human vaccine adjuvant and further swells the growing family of carbohydrate structures with immunological activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / chemistry
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / drug effects
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Complement Activation / drug effects
  • Dahlia / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Immune Sera
  • Inulin / chemistry
  • Inulin / immunology
  • Inulin / pharmacology*
  • Materials Testing
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Nanoparticles
  • Particle Size
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / immunology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Tubers / chemistry
  • Solubility


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, CD
  • Immune Sera
  • Plant Extracts
  • Inulin