Year of Publication


Document Type





Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Russell J. Mumper


These studies were aimed at investigating the potential application of nanoparticles engineered from oil-in-water microemulsion precursors for enhancing immune responses to HIV-1 Tat and Gag p24 proteins. Both of the HIV-1 proteins have been reported to be critical in the virus life cycle and are being evaluated in clinical trials as vaccine candidates. Anionic nanoparticles were prepared using emulsifying wax as the oil phase and Brij 78 and sodium dodecyl sulfate as the surfactants. The resulting nanoparticles were coated with Tat and were demonstrated to produce superior immune responses after administration to BALB/c mice compared to Tat adjuvanted with Alum. Similarly, cationic nanoparticles were prepared using emulsifying wax and Brij 78 and cetyl trimethyl ammonium bromide as the surfactants. The cationic nanoparticles were investigated for delivery of immunostimulatory adjuvants, namely three Toll-like receptor ligands, for obtaining synergistic enhancements in immune responses to a model antigen, Ovalbumin (OVA). In vitro and in vivo studies were carried out to elucidate possible mechanisms by which nanoparticles may result in enhancements in immune responses. In vitro studies were carried out to evaluate the uptake of nanoparticles into dendritic cells and to assess the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from dendritic cells in the presence of nanoparicles. In vivo studies were carried out using a MHC class I restricted transgenic mouse model to investigate the potential for nanoparticles coated with OVA to enhance presentation of the protein to CD8+ T cells compared to OVA alone. Finally, the preparation of nanoparticles with a low amount of surface chelated nickel for high affinity binding to histidine-tagged (his-tag) proteins was investigated. It was hypothesized that this strengthened interaction of his-tag protein to the nickel chelated nanoparticles (Ni-NPs) would result in a greater uptake of antigen in vivo; therefore, enhanced immune responses compared to protein bound to anionic nanoparticles. In vivo evaluation of his-tag HIV-1 Gag p24 bound to Ni-NPs resulted in enhanced immune responses compared to protein either adjuvanted with Alum or coated on the surface of nanoparticles.