Keyhole limpet haemocyanin - A model antigen for human immunotoxicological studies

A. Swaminathan, Robyn Lucas, K.B.G. Dear, A.J. Mcmichael

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Immunization with a T-cell dependent antigen has been promoted as a reliable and sensitive tool for assessing the influence of putative immunotoxic exposures or agents on immune function. Keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) is a very large, copper-containing protein molecule derived from the haemolymph of the inedible mollusc, Megathura crenulata. KLH is a highly immunogenic T-cell dependent antigen that is used increasingly in immunotoxicological studies, particularly in those involving animals. This report systematically reviews the human clinical studies that have used trans-cutaneous KLH immunization for assessment of the influence of various physiological and disease states and exposures on immune function over the last 20 years (1994-2013). These studies varied in their immunization protocols, formulation of KLH, dose, site and route of administration and immunoassay platforms developed to assess KLH-specific responses. KLH immunization has been well tolerated with only mild to moderate adverse effects reported. Though very promising as a model antigen candidate in immunotoxicology research, more work on standardizing immunization and immunoassay protocols is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1142
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number5
Early online date20 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


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