Volume 215 of the series NATO ASI Series pp 59-75

Nonionic Block Polymer Surfactants as Adjuvants in Vaccines

  • Guy J. W. J. ZigtermanAffiliated withDepartment of Bacteriology Research, Intervet International
  • , Andre F. M. VerheulAffiliated withEykman-Winkler Laboratory of Medical Microbiology, Utrecht University
  • , Harm SnippeAffiliated withEykman-Winkler Laboratory of Medical Microbiology, Utrecht University

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Nonionic Block Polymers (NBPs) are simple copolymers of polyoxyethylene (POE) and hydrophobic polyoxypropylene (POP) and differ in molecular weight, percentage POE and the mode of linkage of POE abd POP-groups. These adjuvants are currently investigated on their potential use in vaccines. The mode of action of these adjuvants is largely unknown (Hunter et al, 1981, 1989; Byars and Allison, 1987). It is difficult to hypothesize that differences in biologic activities among NBPs could be due to the presence of active sites on one molecule that are not present on all of them. The experiments described in this review point out that NBPs are adjuvants which interfere with components of the immune system while interactions with the antigen are also noticed. The models put forward by Hunter and Allison on the mechanism by which pluronic polyols interfere with the immune system are presented. Finally, our efforts to develop a semi-synthetic pneumococcal vaccine are discussed and the effects of NBPs on the antibody avidity and isotype distribution are described.