Iron oxide nanoparticles as a clinically acceptable delivery platform for a recombinant blood-stage human malaria vaccine

FASEB J. 2013 Mar;27(3):1153-66. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-218362. Epub 2012 Nov 29.


This study explored the novel use of iron oxide (IO) nanoparticles (<20 nm) as a vaccine delivery platform without additional adjuvants. A recombinant malaria vaccine antigen, the merozoite surface protein 1 (rMSP1), was conjugated to IO nanoparticles (rMSP1-IO). Immunizations in outbred mice with rMSP1-IO achieved 100% responsiveness with antibody titers comparable to those obtained with rMSP1 formulated with a clinically acceptable adjuvant, Montanide ISA51 (2.7×10 vs. 1.6×10; respectively). Only rMSP1-1O could induce significant levels (80%) of parasite inhibitory antibodies. The rMSP1-IO was highly stable at 4°C and was amenable to lyophilization, maintaining its antigenicity, immunogenicity, and ability to induce inhibitory antibodies. Further testing in nonhuman primates, Aotus monkeys, also elicited 100% immune responsiveness and high levels of parasite inhibitory antibodies (55-100% inhibition). No apparent local or systemic toxicity was associated with IO immunizations. Murine macrophages and dendritic cells efficiently (>90%) internalized IO nanoparticles, but only the latter were significantly activated, with elevated expression/secretion of CD86, cytokines (IL-6, TNF-α, IL1-b, IFN-γ, and IL-12), and chemokines (CXCL1, CXCL2, CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, and CXCL10). Thus, the IO nanoparticles is a novel, safe, and effective vaccine platform, with built-in adjuvancy, that is highly stable and field deployable for cost-effective vaccine delivery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aotidae
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry
  • Drug Carriers / pharmacology*
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry
  • Ferric Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Malaria / immunology
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Malaria Vaccines / immunology
  • Malaria Vaccines / pharmacology*
  • Merozoite Surface Protein 1 / immunology
  • Merozoite Surface Protein 1 / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / pharmacology


  • Cytokines
  • Drug Carriers
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Malaria Vaccines
  • Merozoite Surface Protein 1
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • ferric oxide