Iron Oxide Nanoparticles-Based Vaccine Delivery for Cancer Treatment

Mol Pharm. 2018 May 7;15(5):1791-1799. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.7b01103. Epub 2018 Mar 23.


Modern therapeutic cancer vaccines need simple and effective formulations to enhance both humoral and cellular immune responses. Nanoparticles have obtained more and more attention in the development of vaccine delivery platforms. Moreover, nanoparticles-based vaccine delivery platform has high potential for improving the immunogenicity of vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved many types of iron oxide nanoparticles for clinical use, such as treating iron deficiency, contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and drug delivery platforms. In this study, we explored a novel combined use of iron oxide nanoparticles (superparamagnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles) as a vaccine delivery platform and immune potentiator, and investigated how this formulation affected cytokine expression in macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Comparing with soluble OVA alone and iron oxide nanoparticles alone, we found significant differences in immune responses and tumor inhibition induced by OVA formulated with iron oxide nanoparticles. Our iron oxide nanoparticles greatly promoted the activation of immune cells and cytokine production, inducing potent humoral and cellular immune responses. These results suggest that this nanoparticle-based delivery system has strong potential to be utilized as a general platform for cancer vaccines.

Keywords: adjuvant; cancer; iron oxide nanoparticles; vaccine; vaccine delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Ferric Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology
  • Immunity, Humoral / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Nanoparticles / administration & dosage*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric oxide