Routes of immunization and antigen delivery systems for optimal mucosal immune responses in humans.

Academic Article


  • Numerous experiments performed in humans and animals have revealed that stimulation of mucosal lymphoid inductive sites such as intestinal Peyer's patches results in parallel immune responses manifested by the appearance of S-IgA antibodies in the external secretions of remote glands. However, recent experiments suggest that inductive sites associated with the upper respiratory tract, rectum, and perhaps genital tract may also function as sources of lymphoid cells that populate, with some selectivity, certain remote mucosal effector sites. Furthermore, antigen-specific IgA antibodies can be induced in certain secretions (e.g., female genital tract) not only by immunization in the vicinity of corresponding mucosal tissues (e.g., vagina and rectum) but also by oral and especially intranasal immunization. The ineffectiveness of simple delivery of soluble antigens to mucosal membranes for immunization has stimulated extensive studies of strategies for effective delivery systems that would (a) increase the antigen absorption, (b) prevent its degradation, and (c) skew the outcome of immunization to a desired goal (protective response to infectious diseases vs. tolerance; B vs. T cell responses; mucosal vs. systemic). The induction of immune responses at a desired mucosal site can be accentuated with the use of a suitable antigen-delivery system including relevant bacterial or viral vectors, edible transgenic plants expressing microbial antigens, incorporation of antigens in biodegradable microspheres or liposomes, and linkage or coadministration of antigens with cholera toxin B subunit. However, only a few antigen-delivery systems extensively used in animal experimentation have been evaluated for their efficacy in humans. The combination of various immunization routes and the use of suitable antigen-delivery systems may accomplish an important task-the induction of mucosal immune responses at a location relevant to the site of entry of a given pathogen.
  • Published In

    Author List

  • Mestecky J; Michalek SM; Moldoveanu Z; Russell MW
  • Start Page

  • 33
  • End Page

  • 43
  • Issue

  • 98