Validation of an FFF-MALS Method to Characterize the Production and Functionalization of Outer-Membrane Vesicles for Conjugate Vaccines

Anal Chem. 2022 Sep 6;94(35):12033-12041. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.2c01590. Epub 2022 Aug 25.


With the ongoing development of conjugate vaccines battling infectious diseases, there is a need for novel carriers. Although tetanus toxoid and CRM197 belong to the traditional carrier proteins, outer-membrane vesicles (OMVs) are an excellent alternative: in addition to their size, OMVs have self-adjuvanting properties due to the presence of genetically detoxified lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and are therefore ideal as a vaccine component or antigen carrier. An essential aspect of their development for vaccine products is characterization of OMVs with respect to size and purity. We report on the development of a field-flow fractionation multiangle light-scattering (FFF-MALS) method for such characterization. Here, we introduced NIST-traceable particle-size standards and BSA as a model protein to verify the precision of the size and purity analysis of the OMVs. We executed a validation program according to the principles provided in the ICH Guidelines Q2 (R1) to assess the quality attributes of the results obtained by FFF-MALS analysis. All validation characteristics showed excellent results with coefficients of variation between 0.4 and 7.32%. Estimation of limits of detection for hydrodynamic radius and particle concentration revealed that as little as 1 μg OMV still yielded accurate results. With the validated method, we further characterized a full downstream purification process of our proprietary OMV. This was followed by the evaluation of other purified OMVs from different bacterial origin. Finally, functionalizing OMVs with N-γ-(maleimidobutyryl)oxysuccinimide-ester (GMBS), generating ready-to-conjugate OMVs, did not affect the structural integrity of the OMVs and as such, they could be evaluated with the validated FFF-MALS method.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Fractionation, Field Flow*
  • Lipopolysaccharides* / chemistry
  • Vaccines, Conjugate


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Vaccines, Conjugate