Nanoparticle-detained toxins for safe and effective vaccination

Nat Nanotechnol. 2013 Dec;8(12):933-8. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2013.254. Epub 2013 Dec 1.


Toxoid vaccines--vaccines based on inactivated bacterial toxins--are routinely used to promote antitoxin immunity for the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections. Following chemical or heat denaturation, inactivated toxins can be administered to mount toxin-specific immune responses. However, retaining faithful antigenic presentation while removing toxin virulence remains a major challenge and presents a trade-off between efficacy and safety in toxoid development. Here, we show a nanoparticle-based toxin-detainment strategy that safely delivers non-disrupted pore-forming toxins for immune processing. Using erythrocyte membrane-coated nanoparticles and staphylococcal α-haemolysin, we demonstrate effective virulence neutralization via spontaneous particle entrapment. Compared with vaccination with heat-denatured toxin, mice vaccinated with the nanoparticle-detained toxin showed superior protective immunity against toxin-mediated adverse effects. We find that the non-disruptive detoxification approach benefited the immunogenicity and efficacy of toxoid vaccines. We anticipate that this study will open new possibilities in the preparation of antitoxin vaccines against the many virulence factors that threaten public health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Toxins / therapeutic use
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Hemolysin Proteins / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use
  • Safety
  • Vaccination*


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Hemolysin Proteins