Modeling the kinetics of lymph node retention and exposure of a cargo protein delivered by biotin-functionalized nanoparticles



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Acta biomaterialia



First Page


Last Page



Lymphatics, adjuvant, Modeling, Nanoparticles, PLGA, pharmacokinetics, Subcutaneous depot, Subunit vaccine


Generation of protective immunity through vaccination arises from the adaptive immune response developed primarily in the lymph nodes drained from the immunization site. Relative to the intramuscular route, subcutaneous administration allows for direct and rapid access to the lymphatics, but accumulation of soluble protein antigens within the lymph nodes is limited. Subunit vaccines also require immune stimulating adjuvants which may not accumulate in the same lymph nodes simultaneously with antigen. Herein we report the use of biotinylated poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (bNPs) to enhance delivery of a model protein antigen to the lymphatics. bNPs provide dual functionality as adjuvant and vehicle to localize antigens with stimulated immune cells in the same draining lymph node. Using streptavidin as a model antigen, which can be loaded directly onto the bNP surface, we evaluated the kinetics of lymph node occupancy and adaptive immune responses in wildtype C57BL/6 mice. Antigen exposure in vivo was significantly improved through surface loading onto bNPs, and we developed a working kinetic model to account for the retention of both particles and antigen in draining lymph nodes. We observed enhanced T cell responses and antigen-specific B cell response in vivo when antigen was delivered on the particle surface. This work highlights the advantage of combining intrinsic adjuvant and antigen loading in a single entity, and the utility of kinetic modeling in the understanding of particle-based vaccines. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Development of safe and effective subunit vaccines depends on effective formulations that render optimized exposure and colocalization of antigens and adjuvants. In this work, we utilize a nanoparticle system which features self-adjuvanting properties and allows for surface loading of recombinant protein antigens. Using in vivo imaging, we demonstrated prolonged co-localization of the antigen and adjuvant particles in draining lymph nodes and provided evidence of B cell activation for up to 21 days following subcutaneous injection. A pharmacokinetic model was developed as a step towards bridging the translational gap between particulate-based vaccines and observed outcomes. The results have implications for the rational design of particle-based vaccines.

Open Access

37652212 (pubmed); NIHMS1928084 (mid); PMC10592217 (pmc); 10.1016/j.actbio.2023.08.048 (doi); S1742-7061(23)00512-3 (pii)