Vaccine adjuvant formulations: a pharmaceutical perspective

Semin Immunol. 2013 Apr;25(2):130-45. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2013.05.007. Epub 2013 Jul 12.


Formulation science is an unappreciated and often overlooked aspect in the field of vaccinology. In this review we highlight key attributes necessary to generate well characterized adjuvant formulations. The relationship between the adjuvant and the antigen impacts the immune responses generated by these complex biopharmaceutical formulations. We will use 5 well established vaccine adjuvant platforms; alum, emulsions, liposomes, PLG, and particulate systems such as ISCOMS in addition to immune stimulatory molecules such as MPL to illustrate that a vaccine formulation is more than a simple mixture of component A and component B. This review identifies the challenges and opportunities of these adjuvant platforms. As antigen and adjuvant formulations increase in complexity having a well characterized robust formulation will be critical to ensuring robust and reproducible results throughout preclinical and clinical studies.

Keywords: Adjuvant; Alum; Emulsion; Formulations; PLG; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic / chemistry
  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical / methods
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Vaccines*


  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic
  • Vaccines