Towards an understanding of the adjuvant action of aluminium

Abstract

The efficacy of vaccines depends on the presence of an adjuvant in conjunction with the antigen. Of these adjuvants, the ones that contain aluminium, which were first discovered empirically in 1926, are currently the most widely used. However, a detailed understanding of their mechanism of action has only started to be revealed. In this Timeline article, we briefly describe the initial discovery of aluminium adjuvants and discuss historically important advances. We also summarize recent progress in the field and discuss their implications and the remaining questions on how these adjuvants work.

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Figure 1: Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by aluminium salts.
Figure 2: Stimulation of adaptive immune responses by aluminium salts.

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Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (grants A1-18785 and A1-22995).

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Correspondence to Philippa Marrack.

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Marrack, P., McKee, A. & Munks, M. Towards an understanding of the adjuvant action of aluminium. Nat Rev Immunol 9, 287–293 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nri2510

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