Vaccine Lab / Alfa Chemistry
The Uses of Sucrose in Vaccines
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The Uses of Sucrose in Vaccines

Vaccines are formulated using various components, including antigens, adjuvants, and stabilizers, to ensure their effectiveness and safety. One of the most commonly used stabilizers in vaccines is sucrose, a naturally occurring disaccharide. Sucrose plays a vital role in vaccine formulation, helping to maintain stability and enhance the shelf-life of vaccines.


How does sucrose work in vaccines?

  • Sucrose for Stabilization of Proteins and Antigens
    Proteins and antigens in vaccines are delicate and prone to degradation. Sucrose is utilized as a stabilizer due to its ability to maintain the structural integrity and functionality of these components. Sucrose protects proteins and antigens from the detrimental effects of environmental factors such as temperature, pH, and mechanical stress during the vaccine's manufacturing, storage, and administration. By forming a protective matrix around these components, sucrose minimizes conformational changes and prevents denaturation, ensuring the vaccine's potency is maintained.
  • Sucrose for Freeze-Drying and Lyophilization

Sucrose for Freeze-Drying and Lyophilization

Lyophilization, commonly known as freeze-drying, is a process used to increase the shelf-life of vaccines. It involves removing water from the formulation, thus preventing degradation and microbial growth. Sucrose plays a critical role in this process, acting as a cryoprotectant. During freeze-drying, the addition of sucrose creates a glassy matrix that surrounds the antigens, stabilizing their structure and allowing them to maintain their immunogenicity even after reconstitution.

  • Sucrose used to reduce vaccination-related pain
    Studies have shown that sucrose effectively decreases pain and distress in infants and children during immunizations. The analgesic effects of sucrose can be attributed to the activation of endogenous opioid systems in the brain. For example, a study by Manal Kassab et al evaluated the effects of sucrose on neonatal vaccination-related pain. [1] Researchers evaluated the efficacy of sucrose injections using behavioral pain parameters, crying duration, and salivary substance (P) concentration. The results suggest that sucrose can be an effective intervention for pain relief.

In which commercial vaccines can sucrose be found?

The specific formulas of vaccines may vary from different manufacturers and countries. The following table lists some common U.S. vaccines containing sucrose ingredients for reference only.

COVID-19 Vaccine (COMIRNATY)messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, sucrose.
Adenovirusmonosodium glutamate, sucrose, D-mannose, D-fructose, dextrose, human serum albumin, potassium phosphate, plasdone C…
Cholera (Vaxchora)ascorbic acid, hydrolyzed casein, sodium chloride, sucrose, dried lactose, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate.
DTaP-IPV/Hib (Pentacel)aluminum phosphate, polysorbate 80, sucrose, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, bovine serum albumin…
Hib (ActHIB)sodium chloride, formaldehyde, sucrose.
Influenza (Afluria)sodium chloride, monobasic sodium phosphate, ovalbumin, sucrose, neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B...

Useful link

It is always recommended to check the vaccine package insert on the FDA's official website.

Vaccines Licensed for Use in the United States

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  1. Manal Kassab, et al. J Pediatr Nurs. 2020 Jan-Feb:50:e55-e61.

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