Background: Streptococcus pneumoniae causes widespread morbidity and mortality. Current vaccines contain free polysaccharides or protein-polysaccharide conjugates, and do not induce protection against serotypes that are not included in the vaccines. An affordable and broadly protective vaccine is very desirable. The goal of this study was to determine the optimal formulation of a killed whole cell pneumococcal vaccine with aluminum-containing adjuvants for intramuscular injection.Methods: Four aluminium-containing adjuvants were prepared with different levels of surface phosphate groups resulting in different adsorptive capacities and affinities for the vaccine antigens. Mice were immunized three times and the antigen-specific antibody titers and IL-17 responses in blood were analyzed.Results: Although all adjuvants induced significantly higher antibody titers than antigen without adjuvant, the vaccine containing aluminum phosphate adjuvant (AP) produced the highest antibody response when low doses of antigen were used. Aluminum hydroxide adjuvant (AH) induced an equal or better antibody response at high doses compared with AP. Vaccines formulated with AH, but not with AP, induced an IL-17 response. The vaccine formulated with AH was stable and retained full immunogenicity when stored at 4°C for 4 months.Conclusions: Antibodies are important for protection against systemic streptococcal disease and IL-17 is critical in the prevention of nasopharyngeal colonization by S. pneumoniae in the mouse model. The formulation of the whole killed bacterial cells with AH resulted in a stable vaccine that induced both antibodies and an IL-17 response. These experiments underscore the importance of formulation studies with aluminium containing adjuvants for the development of stable and effective vaccines.
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