Vaccines with MF59 adjuvant expand the antibody repertoire to target protective sites of pandemic avian H5N1 influenza virus.Sci Transl Med. 2010 Jan 20; 2(15):15ra5.ST
Vaccines against influenza viruses with pandemic potential, including H5N1, are under development. Because of a lack of preexisting immunity to these viruses, adjuvants (immune potentiators or enhancers) are needed to improve immune responses, to conserve scarce vaccine, and for cross-protection against strains that have drifted evolutionarily from the original. Aluminum-based adjuvants do not improve vaccine immunogenicity for influenza subunit vaccines, whereas oil-in-water adjuvants are effective, especially with H5N1-inactivated vaccines. We used whole-genome-fragment phage display libraries followed by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technologies to elucidate the effect of different adjuvants on the antibody repertoire against H5N1 vaccine in humans. The oil-in-water adjuvant MF59 induced epitope spreading from HA2 to HA1 in hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase relative to unadjuvanted or aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines. Moreover, we observed an increase by a factor of 20 in the frequency of HA1-to-HA2-specific phage clones in sera after MF59-adjuvanted vaccine administration and a factor of 2 to 3 increase in the avidity of antibodies binding to properly folded HA1(28-319), as measured by SPR. The adjuvant-dependent increase in binding to conformational HA1 epitopes correlated with broadening of cross-clade neutralization and predicted improved in vivo protection. Thus, MF59 adjuvant improves the immune response to a H5N1 vaccine by inducing qualitative and quantitative expansion of the antibody repertoires with protective potential.