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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 1459394, 16 pages
Review Article

Adjuvants: Classification, Modus Operandi, and Licensing

1Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP/EPM), Rua Botucatu, 4° Andar, 04023-062 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
2Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, Avenida Lineu Prestes 1374, 05508-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
3Instituto de Investigação em Imunologia (iii), 01246-903 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 18 February 2016; Revised 2 April 2016; Accepted 11 April 2016

Academic Editor: Lenin Pavon

Copyright © 2016 Juliana de Souza Apostólico et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Vaccination is one of the most efficient strategies for the prevention of infectious diseases. Although safer, subunit vaccines are poorly immunogenic and for this reason the use of adjuvants is strongly recommended. Since their discovery in the beginning of the 20th century, adjuvants have been used to improve immune responses that ultimately lead to protection against disease. The choice of the adjuvant is of utmost importance as it can stimulate protective immunity. Their mechanisms of action have now been revealed. Our increasing understanding of the immune system, and of correlates of protection, is helping in the development of new vaccine formulations for global infections. Nevertheless, few adjuvants are licensed for human vaccines and several formulations are now being evaluated in clinical trials. In this review, we briefly describe the most well known adjuvants used in experimental and clinical settings based on their main mechanisms of action and also highlight the requirements for licensing new vaccine formulations.