A grading system for local skin reactions developed for clinical trials of an intradermal and transcutaneous ETEC vaccine

Ramiro L. Gutiérrez*, Chad K. Porter, Abel Jarell, Ashley Alcala, Mark S. Riddle, George W. Turiansky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Trials assessing the safety of novel vaccine candidates are essential in the evaluation and development of candidate vaccines. Immunogenicity and dose-sparing features of vaccination approaches which target skin and associated tissues have garnered increased interest; for enteric vaccines, cutaneous vaccination has been of particular interest. Cutaneous vaccine site reactions are among the most common and visible vaccine related adverse events (AEs) when skin routes are used. Regulatory guidelines governing classification of severity focus on functional impact but are insufficient to characterize a spectrum of skin reaction and allow for comparisons of routes, doses and products with similar local cutaneous AEs. Objectives: Our group developed a grading scale to evaluate and compare cutaneous vaccine site reactions ahead of early-phase clinical trials of intradermal (ID) and transcutaneous immunization (TCI) with enterotoxigenic E.coli (ETEC) vaccine candidates (adhesin-based vaccine co-administered with LTR192G). We reviewed existing methods for characterizing the appearance and severity of local vaccine site reactions following TCI and ID vaccination and devised a standardized vaccine site appearance grading scale (VSAGS) for use in the clinical development of novel ETEC vaccine candidates which focused on pathophysiologic manifestation of skin findings. Results: Available data from published reports revealed erythematous papules and pruritus were the most common local AEs associated with TCI. Frequency of reactions varied notably across studies as did TCI vaccination methodologies and products. ID vaccination commonly results in erythema and induration at the vaccine site as well as pigmentation changes. There was no published methodology to characterize the spectrum of dermatologic findings. Conclusion: ID and TCI vaccination are associated with a largely predictable range of cutaneous AEs. A grading scale focused on the appearance of cutaneous changes was useful in comparing cutaneous AEs. A standardized grading scale will facilitate documentation and comparison of cutaneous AEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3773-3779
Number of pages7
Issue number21
StatePublished - 6 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse Events
  • Intradermal
  • Transcutaneous
  • Vaccination


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