Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS)


Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Baozhong Wang

Second Advisor

Lanying Du


Vaccine development has been a cornerstone of modern medicine and the use of adjuvants in vaccine development has been a phenomenon present since the early 1900’s. Nanoparticles offer unique advantages as adjuvants due to their adjustable properties and their ability to serve as antigen carriers. In this study, we investigate the influence of polyethyleneimine-modified graphene oxide nanoparticles (GO-PEI) on the activation of the inflammasome, a crucial component of the innate immune system, in macrophage cells. Narrowing our focus on testing the successful activation of the inflammasome and its mechanism of activation, we found that GP nanoparticles could induce the activation of the inflammasome in vitro and its mechanism of action involved cathepsin B release and generation of reactive oxygen species as downstream secondary activating signals. This finding is significant and illustrates GP nanoparticles' usefulness in the development of more effective vaccines due to their unique properties.