Research ArticleInfluenza

MF59 Adjuvant Enhances Diversity and Affinity of Antibody-Mediated Immune Response to Pandemic Influenza Vaccines

Science Translational Medicine  01 Jun 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 85, pp. 85ra48
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002336

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A Shot in the Arm for the Flu Vaccine

Because flu vaccine production begins months before the flu season, vaccine producers and world health officials have to guess which strains will predominate in a coming year. Although they’re frequently right, sometimes a dark horse arises that wasn’t predicted, and vaccine makers have to play catch-up. Speed is of the essence when attempting to prevent a pandemic, and limited supplies could hinder a worldwide vaccination campaign, preventing the broad coverage that protects even unvaccinated people. Khurana et al. report that the use of an oil-in-water adjuvant, MF59, improves the magnitude, robustness, and strength of the immune response to pandemic flu vaccines and may decrease the amount of antigen required for each dose.

The authors looked at the quantitative and qualitative effects of MF59 on the antibody response in patients from various age groups who were vaccinated with the swine-origin H1N1 flu vaccine. They found that in adults and children who had been either previously vaccinated or exposed to the flu, MF59 increased the diversity and volume of neutralizing antibody responses to the flu vaccine. Antibody responses were slightly different in toddlers, suggesting that there may be distinct requirements for activating primary and recall antibody responses. MF59 also increased the strength with which these antibodies bound to the flu virus. These results support the use of adjuvants with flu vaccinations. Such a strategy could help expand coverage and decrease morbidity in the event of pandemic influenza and give vaccine makers the edge in a game of catch-up with dark horses.


  • Citation: S. Khurana, N. Verma, J. W. Yewdell, A. K. Hilbert, F. Castellino, M. Lattanzi, G. Del Giudice, R. Rappuoli, H. Golding, MF59 Adjuvant Enhances Diversity and Affinity of Antibody-Mediated Immune Response to Pandemic Influenza Vaccines. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 85ra48 (2011).

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