Mucosal immunoadjuvant activity of liposomes: role of alveolar macrophages

Immunology. 1996 Dec;89(4):488-93. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2567.1996.d01-787.x.


Previously, we have reported on a liposomal adjuvant system for stimulation of both systemic IgG and mucosal s-IgA responses against viral antigens (influenza virus subunit antigen or whole inactivated measles virus) administered intranasally to mice. Immune stimulation is observed with negatively charged, but not with zwitterionic, liposomes and is independent of a physical association of the antigen with the liposomes. Furthermore, liposome-mediated immune stimulation requires deposition of the liposomes and the antigen in the lower respiratory tract. In the present study, it is shown that alveolar macrophages (AM) are the main target cells for negatively charged liposomes administered to the lungs of mice. AM isolated from animals, to which negatively charged liposomes were administered beforehand, showed large intracellular vacuoles, suggestive of massive liposome uptake. Under ex vivo conditions, both AM and RAW 264 cells exhibited a high capacity to take up negatively charged liposomes. The deposition of negatively charged liposomes, but not zwitterionic, liposomes in the lung reduced the phagocytic and migratory behaviour of AM, as assessed on the basis of transport of carbon particles to the draining lymph nodes of the lungs. Depletion of AM in vivo with dichloromethylene diphosphonate, facilitated an enhanced systemic and local antibody response against influenza subunit antigen deposited subsequently to the lower respiratory tract. In conclusion, these data provide support for the hypothesis that uptake of negatively charged liposomes blocks the immunosuppressive activity of AM, thereby facilitating local and systemic antibody responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic*
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Female
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Liposomes / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Liposomes