• gene expression;
  • human skin;
  • influenza;
  • intradermal;
  • microneedle;
  • virus-like-particles


Miniaturized microneedle devices are being developed for painlessly targeting vaccines to the immune cell populations in skin. As skin immunization studies are generally restricted to animal models however, where skin architecture and immunity is greatly different to human, surprisingly little is known about the local human response to intradermal (ID) vaccines. Here surgically excised human skin is used to explore for the first time the complex molecular and cellular host responses to a candidate influenza vaccine comprising nanoparticulate virus-like-particles (VLPs), administered via conventional hypodermic injection or reduced scale microneedles. Responses at the molecular level are determined by microarray analysis (47,296 discrete transcripts) and validated by quantitative PCR (96 genes). Cellular response is probed through monitoring migration of dendritic cells in viable skin tissue. Gene expression mapping, ontological analysis, and qPCR reveal up-regulation of a host of genes responsible for key immunomodulatory processes and host viral response, including cell recruitment, activation, migration, and T cell interaction following both ID and microneedle injection of VLPs; the response from the microneedles being more subtle. Significant morphological and migratory changes to skin dendritic cells are also apparent following microneedle VLP delivery. This is the first study displaying the global, multifaceted immunological events that occur at the site of vaccine deposition in human skin and will subsequently influence the degree and nature of innate and adaptive immune responses. An increased understanding of the detailed similarities and differences in response against antigen administered via different delivery modalities will inform the development of improved vaccines and vaccine delivery systems.