Physical characterization and in silico modeling of inulin polymer conformation during vaccine adjuvant particle formation

Carbohydr Polym. 2016 Jun 5;143:108-15. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2016.01.062. Epub 2016 Jan 29.


This study combined physical data from synchrotron SAXS, FTIR and microscopy with in-silico molecular structure predictions and mathematical modeling to examine inulin adjuvant particle formation and structure. The results show that inulin polymer chains adopt swollen random coil in solution. As precipitation occurs from solution, interactions between the glucose end group of one chain and a fructose group of an adjacent chain help drive organized assembly, initially forming inulin ribbons with helical organization of the chains orthogonal to the long-axis of the ribbon. Subsequent aggregation of the ribbons results in the layered semicrystalline particles previously shown to act as potent vaccine adjuvants. γ-Inulin adjuvant particles consist of crystalline layers 8.5 nm thick comprising helically organized inulin chains orthogonal to the plane of the layer. These crystalline layers alternate with amorphous layers 2.4 nm thick, to give overall particle crystallinity of 78%.

Keywords: Adjuvant; FTIR; Inulin; Inulin from chicory (PubChem CID: 16219508); Modeling; Polysaccharide; SAXS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / chemistry*
  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Computer Simulation
  • Inulin / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Scattering, Small Angle
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Inulin