Adjuvants are vaccine additives that stimulate the immune system without having any specific antigenic effect of itself. In this study we show that alum adjuvant induces the release of IL-1beta from macrophages and dendritic cells and that this is abrogated in cells lacking various NALP3 inflammasome components. The NALP3 inflammasome is also required in vivo for the innate immune response to OVA in alum. The early production of IL-1beta and the influx of inflammatory cells into the peritoneal cavity is strongly reduced in NALP3-deficient mice. The activation of adaptive cellular immunity to OVA-alum is initiated by monocytic dendritic cell precursors that induce the expansion of Ag-specific T cells in a NALP3-dependent way. We propose that, in addition to TLR stimulators, agonists of the NALP3 inflammasome should also be considered as vaccine adjuvants.

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Journal of Immunology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kool, M., Petrilli, V., de Smedt, T., Rolaz, A., Hammad, H., van Nimwegen, M., … Tschopp, J. (2008). Cutting edge: alum adjuvant stimulates inflammatory dendritic cells through activation of the NALP3 inflammasome. Journal of Immunology, 3755–3759. Retrieved from