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The Crucial Role of Mannitol in Vaccine Formulation
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The Crucial Role of Mannitol in Vaccine Formulation

What Is Mannitol?

Mannitol, chemical formula C6H14O6, is a white, crystalline powder with a sweet taste. It is classified as a sugar alcohol, which means it has characteristics of both sugars and alcohols. Mannitol is widely used in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries due to its unique properties and potential applications.

What Is Mannitol?

Production and Sources of Mannitol

Mannitol can be extracted from various natural sources, such as seaweed, or produced synthetically. Mannitol is widely produced in nature by various organisms including algae, fungi, bacteria, and plants.

Researchers are exploring sustainable and cost-effective methods for large-scale mannitol production to meet the growing demand from various industries. With advancements in technology, it is now predominantly produced through the hydrogenation of glucose or fructose. This process involves the conversion of glucose or fructose to mannitol using a suitable catalyst under controlled conditions. The industrial production of mannitol has made it more readily available for various applications.

The biological production of mannitolThe biological production of mannitol. [1]

Application of Mannitol in Vaccines

  • Stabilizer
    Mannitol can be used as a stabilizer in the formulation of vaccines, helping to maintain the integrity and efficacy of the vaccine components. It aids in the preservation of proteins and other sensitive molecules in the vaccine, ensuring their stability during storage and transportation. This property of mannitol makes it a crucial ingredient in the manufacturing of high-quality vaccines.
  • Osmolytes
    Mannitol can act as an osmolyte to affect various steps of vaccine development, including vaccine flocculation, vaccine stability, and vaccine formulation. Mannitol effectively flocculates enveloped viruses. For example, the enveloped virus Sindbis virus heat resistant strain (SVHR) was isolated best with 98% isolation in 0.3 M mannitol at pH 5. [1]

Effect of osmolytes on thermal stability of antigen vaccineEffect of osmolytes on thermal stability of antigen vaccine. [2]

  • Bulking Agent
    Mannitol, which is composed of unbranched hexitols with isomeric properties, is well-known for its ability to easily crystallize from the frozen state. As a result, it is commonly employed as a bulking agent in lyophilized formulations. Tom H. Jin et al. developed a new formulation of recombinant BCG vaccine to improve the cake-like appearance and integrity of traditional BCG vaccine. In this vaccine formula, mannitol serves as a bulking agent, and trehalose, sucrose, and sodium glutamate serve as stabilizers. The improved formulation of rBCG vaccine achieved good cake appearance, high viability after lyophilization and thermal stability during storage. [2]

The appearance of improved rBCG vaccines.The appearance of improved rBCG vaccines. [3]

Application of Mannitol in Pharmaceutical Formulation

Mannitol is frequently used as an excipient, or inactive ingredient, in pharmaceutical formulations. Its unique chemical properties make it an ideal choice for improving drug stability, solubility, and ease of administration.

Medicinal Effects of Mannitol

Mannitol is widely used in medicine as a diuretic to increase urine production and reduce pressure in the brain. Its potential benefits in treating conditions like acute kidney injury, cerebral edema, and glaucoma are actively being researched.


  1. Song S H, et al. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 2009, 84: 55-62.
  2. Tauheed Hasan, et al. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 2019, 15(2): 514-525.
  3. Tom H. Jin, et al. Vaccine, 2011, 29(29-30): 4848-4852.

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