Virus-like particles as a highly efficient vaccine platform: diversity of targets and production systems and advances in clinical development

Vaccine. 2012 Dec 17;31(1):58-83. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.10.083. Epub 2012 Nov 6.


Virus-like particles (VLPs) are a class of subunit vaccines that differentiate themselves from soluble recombinant antigens by stronger protective immunogenicity associated with the VLP structure. Like parental viruses, VLPs can be either non-enveloped or enveloped, and they can form following expression of one or several viral structural proteins in a recombinant heterologous system. Depending on the complexity of the VLP, it can be produced in either a prokaryotic or eukaryotic expression system using target-encoding recombinant vectors, or in some cases can be assembled in cell-free conditions. To date, a wide variety of VLP-based candidate vaccines targeting various viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal pathogens, as well as non-infectious diseases, have been produced in different expression systems. Some VLPs have entered clinical development and a few have been licensed and commercialized. This article reviews VLP-based vaccines produced in different systems, their immunogenicity in animal models and their status in clinical development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle / immunology*
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology*
  • Virosomes / immunology


  • Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle
  • Viral Vaccines
  • Virosomes