Increased efficacy of a trivalent nicotine vaccine compared to a dose-matched monovalent vaccine when formulated with alum

Sabina H.L. De Villiers, Katherine E. Cornish, Andrew J. Troska, Marco Pravetoni, Paul R. Pentel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Vaccination against nicotine is a potential treatment for tobacco smoking. Clinical trials show effect only in high antibody responders; therefore it is necessary to increase the effectiveness of nicotine vaccines. The use of a multivalent vaccine that activates several B cell populations is a possible approach to increase antibody response. The aim of this study was to investigate whether three different nicotine immunogens could be mixed to generate independent responses resulting in additive antibody titers, and whether this would alter nicotine distribution to a greater extent than antibodies generated by a monovalent vaccine. When immunogens were administered s.c. with alum adjuvant, the trivalent vaccine generated significantly higher titers and prevented the distribution of an i.v. nicotine dose to brain to a greater extent than an equivalent dose of a monovalent vaccine. The number of rats with antibody titers >1:10,000 was significantly increased in the trivalent group compared to the monovalent group. There were no correlations between the titers generated by the different nicotine immunogens in the trivalent vaccine, supporting the hypothesis that the immunogens generated independent responses from distinct populations of B cells. In contrast, when administered i.p. in Freund's adjuvant, the trivalent nicotine vaccine was not more immunogenic than its component monovalent vaccine. Vaccine immunogenicity was suppressed if unconjugated protein was added to the monovalent vaccine formulated in Freund's adjuvant, compared to monovalent vaccine alone. These data suggest a protein-protein interaction that affects titers negatively and is apparent when the vaccines are formulated with Freund's adjuvant. In summary, a trivalent nicotine vaccine formulated with alum showed significantly higher efficacy than a dose-matched monovalent vaccine and may offer a strategy for increasing nicotine vaccine immunogenicity. This approach may be generalizable to other nicotine immunogens or vaccines for other addictive drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6185-6193
Number of pages9
Issue number52
StatePublished - Dec 16 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by NIDA grant DA10714 and fellowship support (SdV) from the University of Minnesota/Karolinska Institutet/Mayo Clinic Frontiers in Biomedical Research Partnership. The funding sources had no involvement in study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, or writing of this report.


  • Antibody
  • Immunogen
  • Multivalent
  • Nicotine
  • Tobacco
  • Vaccine


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