Active Self-Healing Encapsulation of Vaccine Antigens in PLGA Microspheres

J Control Release. 2013 Jan 10;165(1):62-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2012.10.012. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


Herein, we describe the detailed development of a simple and effective method to microencapsulate vaccine antigens in poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) by simple mixing of preformed active self-microencapsulating (SM) PLGA microspheres in a low concentration aqueous antigen solution at modest temperature (10-38 °C). Co-encapsulating protein-sorbing vaccine adjuvants and polymer plasticizers were used to "actively" load the protein in the polymer pores and facilitate polymer self-healing at a temperature>the hydrated polymer glass transition temperature, respectively. The microsphere formulation parameters and loading conditions to provide optimal active self-healing microencapsulation of vaccine antigens in PLGA was investigated. Active self-healing encapsulation of two antigens, ovalbumin and tetanus toxoid (TT), in PLGA microspheres was adjusted by preparing blank microspheres containing different vaccine adjuvants (aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)₃) or calcium phosphate). Active loading of vaccine antigen in Al(OH)₃-PLGA microspheres was found to: a) increase with an increasing loading of Al(OH)₃ (0.88-3 wt.%) and addition of porosigen, b) decrease when the inner Al(OH)₃/trehalose phase to 1 mL outer oil phase and size of microspheres was respectively >0.2 mL and 63 μm, and c) change negligibly by PLGA concentration and initial incubation (loading) temperature. Encapsulation of protein sorbing Al(OH)₃ in PLGA microspheres resulted in suppression of self-healing of PLGA pores, which was then overcome by improving polymer chain mobility, which in turn was accomplished by coincorporating hydrophobic plasticizers in PLGA. Active self-healing microencapsulation of manufacturing process-labile TT in PLGA was found to: a) obviate micronization- and organic solvent-induced TT degradation, b) improve antigen loading (1.4-1.8 wt.% TT) and encapsulation efficiency (~97%), c) provide nearly homogeneous distribution and stabilization of antigen in polymer, and d) provide improved in vitro controlled release of antigenic TT.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / chemistry
  • Antigens / chemistry*
  • Calcium Phosphates / chemistry
  • Citrates / chemistry
  • Drug Compounding
  • Lactic Acid / chemistry*
  • Microspheres
  • Phthalic Acids / chemistry
  • Plasticizers / chemistry
  • Polyglycolic Acid / chemistry*
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Tetanus Toxoid / chemistry*
  • Trehalose / chemistry
  • Vaccines*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens
  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Citrates
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Plasticizers
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Vaccines
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Aluminum Hydroxide
  • calcium phosphate
  • Trehalose
  • diethyl phthalate