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Mucosal Immune Responses to Meningococcal Group C Conjugate and Group A and C Polysaccharide Vaccines in Adolescents

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Microbial Immunity And Vaccines
  • Biology


Previous studies in children have shown that Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) polysaccharide conjugate vaccines can reduce nasopharyngeal carriage of H. influenzae and provide herd immunity and suggest that this effect is mediated through mucosal antibodies. As this phenomenon may operate in other invasive bacterial infections which are propagated by nasopharyngeal carriage, mucosal antibody responses to meningococcal C conjugate and A/C polysaccharide vaccines were investigated. A total of 106 school children aged 11 to 17 years were randomized to receive a single dose of either conjugate or polysaccharide vaccine in an observer-blind study. Before and at 1, 6, and 12 months after immunization, samples of unstimulated saliva were collected and assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for group C polysaccharide-specific immunoglobulin A (IgA), IgA1, IgA2 and secretory component, IgG antibodies, and total IgG and IgA. A subset of serum samples were also assayed for specific IgA and IgG antibodies. The concentrations of specific IgA and IgG in saliva were expressed both as nanograms per milliliter and as nanograms per microgram of total IgA or IgG. One month after immunization, significant increases in antibody titers (both IgA and IgG) were observed in saliva in both groups. There were significant subsequent falls in antibody titers by 6 months. Anti-meningococcal C-specific secretory component and IgA antibody titers were closely correlated (r = 0.85, P < 0.001), but there was no significant correlation between salivary and serum IgA titers, suggesting that IgA antibodies are locally produced. Significant correlation was found between salivary and serum IgG titers (r = 0.52, P < 0.01), suggesting that salivary IgG may be serum derived. Compared with polysaccharide vaccine, the conjugate vaccine induced significantly higher salivary IgG responses (P < 0.05), although there were no significant differences between salivary IgA responses to the two vaccines. The conjugate vaccine induced greater salivary IgG responses than a polysaccharide vaccine. Both vaccines induced significant salivary IgA antibodies. Further studies are needed to establish the functional significance of these mucosal responses.

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