Recent clinical experience with vaccines using MPL- and QS-21-containing adjuvant systems

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2011 Apr;10(4):471-86. doi: 10.1586/erv.11.29.


The immunostimulants 3-O-desacyl-4'-monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) and the saponin QS-21 are part of licensed or candidate vaccines. MPL and QS-21 directly affect the innate immune response to orchestrate the quality and intensity of the adaptive immune response to the vaccine antigens. The combination of immunostimulants in different adjuvant formulations forms the basis of Adjuvant Systems (AS) as a way to promote appropriate protective immune responses following vaccination. MPL and aluminum salts are present in AS04, and both MPL and QS-21 are present in AS01 and AS02, which are liposome- and emulsion-based formulations, respectively. The recent clinical performance of AS01-, AS02- and AS04-adjuvanted vaccines will be discussed in the context of the diseases being targeted. The licensing of two AS04-adjuvanted vaccines and the initiation of Phase III trials with an AS01-adjuvanted vaccine demonstrate the potential to develop new or improved human vaccines that contain MPL or MPL and QS-21.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Approval
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Lipid A / administration & dosage
  • Lipid A / analogs & derivatives*
  • Saponins / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Lipid A
  • Saponins
  • Vaccines
  • saponin QA-21V1
  • monophosphoryl lipid A