Authors: Chen BM, Cheng TL, Roffler SR

PMID: 34469112 DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.1c05922


Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a flexible, hydrophilic simple polymer that is physically attached to peptides, proteins, nucleic acids, liposomes, and nanoparticles to reduce renal clearance, block antibody and protein binding sites, and enhance the half-life and efficacy of therapeutic molecules. Some naïve individuals have pre-existing antibodies that can bind to PEG, and some PEG-modified compounds induce additional antibodies against PEG, which can adversely impact drug efficacy and safety. Here we provide a framework to better understand PEG immunogenicity and how antibodies against PEG affect pegylated drug and nanoparticles. Analysis of published studies reveals rules for predicting accelerated blood clearance of pegylated medicine and therapeutic liposomes. Experimental studies of anti-PEG antibody binding to different forms, sizes, and immobilization states of PEG are also provided. The widespread use of SARS-CoV-2 RNA vaccines that incorporate PEG in lipid nanoparticles make understanding possible effects of anti-PEG antibodies on pegylated medicines even more critical.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 RNA vaccines; accelerated blood clearance; anti-PEG antibodies; humoral immunity; immunogenicity; liposomes; pegylation; polyethylene glycol; pre-existing antibodies; thymus-independent type-2 (TI-2) antigen.