Subunit vaccines rely on adjuvants carrying one or a few molecular antigens from the pathogen in order to guarantee an improved immune response. However, to be effective, the vaccine formulation usually consists of several components: an antigen carrier, the antigen, a stimulator of cellular immunity such as a Toll-like Receptors (TLRs) ligand, and a stimulator of humoral response such as an inflammasome activator. Most antigens are negatively charged and combine well with oppositely charged adjuvants. This explains the paramount importance of studying a variety of cationic supramolecular assemblies aiming at the optimal activity in vivo associated with adjuvant simplicity, positive charge, nanometric size, and colloidal stability. In this review, we discuss the use of several antigen/adjuvant cationic combinations. The discussion involves antigen assembled to (1) cationic lipids, (2) cationic polymers, (3) cationic lipid/polymer nanostructures, and (4) cationic polymer/biocompatible polymer nanostructures. Some of these cationic assemblies revealed good yet poorly explored perspectives as general adjuvants for vaccine design.
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