Molecular signatures of vaccine adjuvants

Vaccine. 2015 Sep 29;33(40):5302-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.04.099. Epub 2015 May 16.


Mass vaccination has saved millions of human lives and improved the quality of life in both developing and developed countries. The emergence of new pathogens and inadequate protection conferred by some of the existing vaccines such as vaccines for tuberculosis, influenza and pertussis especially in certain age groups have resulted in a move from empirically developed vaccines toward more pathogen tailored and rationally engineered vaccines. A deeper understanding of the interaction of innate and adaptive immunity at molecular level enables the development of vaccines that selectively target certain type of immune responses without excessive reactogenicity. Adjuvants constitute an imperative element of modern vaccines. Although a variety of candidate adjuvants have been evaluated in the past few decades, only a limited number of vaccine adjuvants are currently available for human use. A better understanding of the mode of action of adjuvants is pivotal to harness the potential of existing and new adjuvants in shaping a desired immune response. Recent advancement in systems biology powered by the emerging cutting edge omics technology has led to the identification of molecular signatures rapidly induced after vaccination in the blood that correlate and predict a later protective immune response or vaccine safety. This can pave ways to prospectively determine the potency and safety of vaccines and adjuvants. This review is intended to highlight the importance of big data analysis in advancing our understanding of the mechanisms of actions of adjuvants to inform rational development of future human vaccines.

Keywords: Mode of action of adjuvants; Omics; Systems biology; Vaccine adjuvants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity* / genetics
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / genetics
  • Immunity, Innate* / genetics
  • Systems Biology
  • Transcriptome*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Vaccines