A liposome-displayed hemagglutinin vaccine platform protects mice and ferrets from heterologous influenza virus challenge

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jun 1;118(22):e2025759118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2025759118.


Recombinant influenza virus vaccines based on hemagglutinin (HA) hold the potential to accelerate production timelines and improve efficacy relative to traditional egg-based platforms. Here, we assess a vaccine adjuvant system comprised of immunogenic liposomes that spontaneously convert soluble antigens into a particle format, displayed on the bilayer surface. When trimeric H3 HA was presented on liposomes, antigen delivery to macrophages was improved in vitro, and strong functional antibody responses were induced following intramuscular immunization of mice. Protection was conferred against challenge with a heterologous strain of H3N2 virus, and naive mice were also protected following passive serum transfer. When admixed with the particle-forming liposomes, immunization reduced viral infection severity at vaccine doses as low as 2 ng HA, highlighting dose-sparing potential. In ferrets, immunization induced neutralizing antibodies that reduced the upper respiratory viral load upon challenge with a more modern, heterologous H3N2 viral strain. To demonstrate the flexibility and modular nature of the liposome system, 10 recombinant surface antigens representing distinct influenza virus strains were bound simultaneously to generate a highly multivalent protein particle that with 5 ng individual antigen dosing induced antibodies in mice that specifically recognized the constituent immunogens and conferred protection against heterologous H5N1 influenza virus challenge. Taken together, these results show that stable presentation of recombinant HA on immunogenic liposome surfaces in an arrayed fashion enhances functional immune responses and warrants further attention for the development of broadly protective influenza virus vaccines.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04783311.

Keywords: adjuvant; cobalt porphyrin; influenza vaccine; liposomes; nanoparticle vaccine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Ferrets
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus / immunology*
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology*
  • Liposomes*
  • Mice


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Liposomes

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04783311