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The skin has been investigated as a site for vaccine delivery only since the late 1990s. However, much has been discovered about the cell populations that reside in the skin, their active role in immune responses, and the fate of trans- cutaneously applied antigens. Transcutaneous immunization (TCI) is a safe, effective means of inducing immune responses against a number of pathogens. One of the most notable benefits of TCI is the induction of immune responses in both systemic and mucosal compartments. This chapter focuses on the transport of antigen into and beyond intact skin, the cutaneous sentinel cell populations that play a role in TCI, and the types of mucosal immune responses that have been generated. A number of in vivo studies in murine models have provided information about the broad responses induced by TCI. Cellular and humoral responses and protection against challenge have been noted in the gastrointestinal, reproductive, and respiratory tracts. Clinical trials have demonstrated the benefits of this vaccine delivery route in humans. As with other routes of immunization, the type of vaccine formulation and choice of adjuvant may be critical for achieving appropriate responses and can be tailored to activate specific immune-responsive cells in the skin to increase the efficacy of TCI against mucosal pathogens.


L B Lawson, J D Clements, L C Freytag. Mucosal immune responses induced by transcutaneous vaccines. Current topics in microbiology and immunology. 2012;354:19-37

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PMID: 22435116

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