Single-injecting, bioinspired nanocomposite hydrogel that can recruit host immune cells in situ to elicit potent and long-lasting humoral immune responses

Chiranjeevi Korupalli, Wen Yu Pan, Ching Yen Yeh, Po Ming Chen, Fwu Long Mi, Hung Wen Tsai, Yen Chang, Hao Ji Wei, Hsing Wen Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Vaccination is an effective medical intervention for preventing disease. However, without an adjuvant, most subunit vaccines are poorly immunogenic. This work develops a bioinspired nanocomposite hyaluronic acid hydrogel system that incorporates N-trimethyl chitosan nanoparticles (TMC/NPs) that carry a model subunit vaccine ovalbumin (OVA) that can elicit a potent and prolonged antigen-specific humoral response. Experimental results indicate that the nanocomposite hydrogel system (NPs-Gel) can retain a large proportion of its TMC/NPs that are bonded by covalent/electrostatic interactions and extend the release of the encapsulated OVA, enabling their localization at the site of hydrogel injection. The positively charged TMC/NPs can be effectively internalized by dendritic cells, significantly augmenting their maturation, suggesting that TMC can function as an adjuvant-based OVA delivery system. Upon subcutaneous implantation in mice, the NPs-Gel acts as an in situ depot that recruits and concentrates immune cells. The TMC/NPs that do not have any specific interactions with the hydrogel network are released rapidly and internalized by the neighboring immune cells, providing a priming dose, while those retained inside the NPs-Gel are ingested by the recruited and concentrated immune cells over time, acting as a booster dose, eliciting high titers of OVA-specific antibody responses. These experimental results suggest particulate vaccines that are integrated in such a bioinspired hydrogel system may be used as single-injection prime-boost vaccines, enabling effective and persistent humoral immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119268
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • Adjuvant
  • Catechol
  • Nanocomposite hydrogel
  • Single-injection vaccine
  • Vaccine delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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