Adjuvants and alternative routes of administration towards the development of the ideal influenza vaccine

Paolo Durando, Rocco Iudici, Cristiano Alicino, Marisa Alberti, Daniela De Florentis, Filippo Ansaldi, Giancarlo Icardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vaccination is universally considered as the principal measure for the control of influenza, which represents a significant burden worldwide, both from a health-care and a socioeconomic viewpoint. Conventional non-adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccines (TIVs) have been recognized as having some deficiencies, such as suboptimal immunogenicity particularly in the elderly, in patients with severe chronic diseases and immunocompromized, indeed, those groups of the population at higher risk of developing severe complications following influenza infection, when compared to healthy adults. Moreover, the protection offered by conventional vaccines may be reduced by periodic antigenic drifts, resulting in a mismatch between the circulating and vaccinal viral strains. Another gap regarding currently available vaccines is related to the egg-based manufacturing system for their production: not only the length of time involved with the latter but also the limited capacity of this platform technology represent a major limitation for the active prevention of influenza, which is particularly important in the case of a new pandemic strain. New technologies used in vaccine composition, administration and manufacture have led to major advances during the last few years and clinical researchers have continued to work hard, investigating several different strategies to improve the performance of influenza vaccines: namely, the addition of different adjuvants (i.e., MF59- and AS03-vaccines, virosomal formulations), the use of alternative routes of administration or manufacture (i.e., intradermal, nasal and oral vaccines and cell culture- and reverse genetic-based vaccines) or of high doses of antigen, and the development of DNA-vaccines, or the use of conserved viral epitopes (i.e., the extracellular portion of the M2 protein, the nucleoprotein and some domains of the hemagglutinin), in the attempt to produce a "universal target" antigen vaccine. The knowledge acquired represents a fundamental challenge for the control of influenza. An overview of the most recent and interesting results, some of which gained from our own research experience, particularly concerning two successful approaches, of those outlined above, namely the use of: (1) the oil-in-water MF59-adjuvant and (2) the intradermal (ID) route for vaccine administration, through a novel microinjection system, will be reported and discussed, together with the possible implications and perspectives to optimize immunization policies against influenza in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Vaccines
Issue numberSUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Adjuvants
  • Cross-reactivity
  • Immunogenicity
  • Influenza vaccines
  • Intradermal administration
  • MF59 oil-in-water emulsion
  • Microinjection system
  • Universal vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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