• Open Access

Chloroplast-derived vaccines against human diseases: achievements, challenges and scopes


  • Andreas G. Lössl,

    Corresponding author
      (Tel +43 1 476 543 323; fax +43 1 476 543 342; email andreas.loessl@boku.ac.at)
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    • Present address: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Donau-City-Straße 1, 1220 Vienna, Austria.

  • Mohammad T. Waheed

    1. Department of Applied Plant Sciences and Plant Biotechnology (DAPP), University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
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This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Addendum Volume 9, Issue 7, 817, Article first published online: 8 August 2011

  • Both authors contributed equally to this article.

(Tel +43 1 476 543 323; fax +43 1 476 543 342; email andreas.loessl@boku.ac.at)


Infectious diseases represent a continuously growing menace that has severe impact on health of the people worldwide, particularly in the developing countries. Therefore, novel prevention and treatment strategies are urgently needed to reduce the rate of these diseases in humans. For this reason, different options can be considered for the production of affordable vaccines. Plants have been proved as an alternative expression system for various compounds of biological importance. Particularly, plastid genetic engineering can be potentially used as a tool for cost-effective vaccine production. Antigenic proteins from different viruses and bacteria have been expressed in plastids. Initial immunological studies of chloroplast-derived vaccines have yielded promising results in animal models. However, because of certain limitations, these vaccines face many challenges on production and application level. Adaptations to the novel approaches are needed, which comprise codon usage and choice of proven expression cassettes for the optimal yield of expressed proteins, use of inducible systems, marker gene removal, selection of specific antigens with high immunogenicity and development of tissue culture systems for edible crops to prove the concept of low-cost edible vaccines. As various aspects of plant-based vaccines have been discussed in recent reviews, here we will focus on certain aspects of chloroplast transformation related to vaccine production against human diseases.