Unequivocal identification of intracellular aluminium adjuvant in a monocytic THP-1 cell line

Sci Rep. 2014 Sep 5;4:6287. doi: 10.1038/srep06287.


Aluminium-based adjuvants (ABA) are the predominant adjuvants used in human vaccinations. While a consensus is yet to be reached on the aetiology of the biological activities of ABA several studies have identified shape, crystallinity and size as critical factors affecting their adjuvanticity. In spite of recent advances, the fate of ABA following their administration remains unclear. Few if any studies have demonstrated the unequivocal presence of intracellular ABA. Herein we demonstrate for the first time the unequivocal identification of ABA within a monocytic T helper 1 (THP-1) cell line, using lumogallion as a fluorescent molecular probe for aluminium. Use of these new methods revealed that particulate ABA was only found in the cell cytoplasm. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that ABA were contained within vesicle-like structures of approximately 0.5-1 μm in diameter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / metabolism*
  • Aluminum Oxide / metabolism*
  • Benzenesulfonates / chemistry
  • Cell Line
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Humans
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Benzenesulfonates
  • 4-chloro-3-(2,4-dihydroxyphenylazo)-2-hydroxybenzene-1-sulfonic acid
  • Aluminum Hydroxide
  • aluminum oxide hydroxide
  • Aluminum Oxide