Applications of polymeric adjuvants in studying autoimmune responses and vaccination against infectious diseases

Akhilesh Kumar Shakya, Kutty Selva Nandakumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Polymers as an adjuvant are capable of enhancing the vaccine potential against various infectious diseases and also are being used to study the actual autoimmune responses using self-antigen(s) without involving any major immune deviation. Several natural polysaccharides and their derivatives originating from microbes and plants have been tested for their adjuvant potential. Similarly, numerous synthetic polymers including polyelectrolytes, polyesters, polyanhydrides, non-ionic block copolymers and external stimuli responsive polymers have demonstrated adjuvant capacity using different antigens. Adjuvant potential of these polymers mainly depends on their solubility, molecular weight, degree of branching and the conformation of polymeric backbone. These polymers have the ability not only to activate humoral but also cellular immune responses in the host. The depot effect, which involves slow release of antigen over a long duration of time, using different forms (particulate, solution and gel) of polymers, and enhances the co-stimulatory signals for optimal immune activation, is the underlying principle of their adjuvant properties. Possibly, polymers may also interact and activate various toll-like receptors and inflammasomes, thus involving several innate immune system players in the ensuing immune response. Biocompatibility, biodegradability, easy production and purification, and non-toxic properties of most of the polymers make them attractive candidates for substituting conventional adjuvants that have undesirable effects in the host.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20120536
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number79
StatePublished - Feb 6 2013


  • Adjuvant
  • Animal model
  • Autoimmunity
  • Polymer
  • Vaccine


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