Verbeke R, Hogan MJ, Loré K, Pardi N
Immunity 55 (11) 1993-2005 [2022-11-08; online 2022-11-10]
The lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-encapsulated, nucleoside-modified mRNA platform has been used to generate safe and effective vaccines in record time against COVID-19. Here, we review the current understanding of the manner whereby mRNA vaccines induce innate immune activation and how this contributes to protective immunity. We discuss innate immune sensing of mRNA vaccines at the cellular and intracellular levels and consider the contribution of both the mRNA and the LNP components to their immunogenicity. A key message that is emerging from recent observations is that the LNP carrier acts as a powerful adjuvant for this novel vaccine platform. In this context, we highlight important gaps in understanding and discuss how new insight into the mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of mRNA-LNP vaccines may enable tailoring mRNA and carrier molecules to develop vaccines with greater effectiveness and milder adverse events in the future.