Suppression of nicotine-induced pathophysiology by an adenovirus hexon-based antinicotine vaccine

Hum Gene Ther. 2013 Jun;24(6):595-603. doi: 10.1089/hum.2012.245.


Despite antismoking campaigns, cigarette smoking remains a pervasive addiction with significant societal impact, accounting for one of every five deaths. Smoking cessation therapies to help smokers quit are ineffective with a high recidivism rate. With the knowledge that nicotine is the principal addictive compound of cigarettes, we have developed an antismoking vaccine based on the highly immunogenic properties of the hexon protein purified from the serotype 5 adenovirus (Ad) capsid. We hypothesized that an effective antinicotine vaccine could be based on coupling the nicotine hapten AM1 to purified Ad hexon protein. To assess this, AM1 was conjugated to hexon purified from serotype 5 Ad to produce the HexonAM1 vaccine. C57Bl/6 mice were sensitized by 10 daily nicotine administrations (0.5 mg/kg, subcutaneous) to render the mice addicted to nicotine. Control groups were sensitized to phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). The mice were then immunized with HexonAM1 (4 μg, intramuscular) at 0, 3, and 6 weeks. By 6 weeks, the HexonAM1-vaccinated mice had serum antinicotine antibody titers of 1.1×10(6)±7.6×10(4). To demonstrate that these high antinicotine titers were sufficient to suppress the effects of nicotine, HexonAM1-vaccinated mice were evaluated for nicotine-induced hypoactive behavior with nicotine challenges (0.5 mg/kg wt) over 5 weeks. In all challenges, the HexonAM1-vaccinated mice behaved similar to PBS-challenged naive mice. These data demonstrate that a vaccine comprised of a nicotine analog coupled to Ad hexon can evoke a high level of antinicotine antibodies sufficient to inhibit nicotine-induced behavior. The HexonAM1 vaccine represents a platform paradigm for vaccines against small molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / blood
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Capsid Proteins / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Nicotine / blood
  • Nicotine / immunology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / blood
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / immunology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Capsid Proteins
  • Vaccines
  • hexon capsid protein, Adenovirus
  • Nicotine