Ontology representation and analysis of vaccine formulation and administration and their effects on vaccine immune responses

J Biomed Semantics. 2012 Dec 20;3(1):17. doi: 10.1186/2041-1480-3-17.


Background: A vaccine is a processed material that if administered, is able to stimulate an adaptive immune response to prevent or ameliorate a disease. A vaccination process may protect the host against subsequent exposure to an infectious agent and result in reduced disease or total prevention of the disease. Vaccine formulation and administration methods may affect vaccine safety and efficacy significantly.

Results: In this report, the detailed classification and definitions of vaccine components and vaccine administration processes are represented using OWL within the framework of the Vaccine Ontology (VO). Different use cases demonstrate how different vaccine formulations and routes of vaccine administration affect the protection efficacy, general immune responses, and adverse events following vaccination. For example, vaccinations of mice with Brucella abortus vaccine strain RB51 using intraperitoneal or intranasal administration resulted in different protection levels. As shown in the vaccine adverse event data provided by US FDA, live attenuated and nonliving vaccines are usually administered in different routes and have different local and systematic adverse effect manifestations.

Conclusions: Vaccine formulation and administration route can independently or collaboratively affect host response outcomes (positive protective immunity or adverse events) after vaccination. Ontological representation of different vaccine and vaccination factors in these two areas allows better understanding and analysis of the causal effects between different factors and immune responses.