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Susceptibility of Meningococcal Strains Responsible for Two Serogroup B Outbreaks on U.S. University Campuses to Serum Bactericidal Activity Elicited by the MenB-4C Vaccine

Rossi, R.; Beernink, P.T.; Giuntini, S.; Granoff, D.M.

Clinical and Vaccine Immunology: Cvi 22(12): 1227-1234

2015


ISSN/ISBN: 1556-6811
PMID: 26424832
DOI: 10.1128/cvi.00474-15
Accession: 058946171

In 2013 and 2014, two U.S. universities had meningococcal serogroup B outbreaks (a total of 14 cases) caused by strains from two different clonal complexes. To control the outbreaks, students were immunized with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (Novartis) that was not yet licensed in the United States. The vaccine (referred to as MenB-4C) contains four components capable of eliciting bactericidal activity. Both outbreak strains had high expression levels of two of the vaccine antigens (subfamily B factor H binding protein [FHbp] and neisserial heparin binding antigen [NHba]); the university B outbreak strain also had moderate expression of a third antigen, NadA. We investigated the bactericidal activity of sera from mice immunized with FHbp, NHba, or NadA and sera from MenB-4C-immunized infant macaques and an adult human. The postimmunization bactericidal activity of the macaque or human serum against isolates from university B with FHbp identification (ID) 1 that exactly matched the vaccine FHbp sequence variant was 8- to 21-fold higher than that against isolates from university A with FHbp ID 276 (96% identity to the vaccine antigen). Based on the bactericidal activity of mouse antisera to FHbp, NadA, or NHba and macaque or human postimmunization serum that had been depleted of anti-FHbp antibody, the bactericidal activity against both outbreak strains largely or entirely resulted from antibodies to FHbp. Thus, despite the high level of strain expression of FHbp from a subfamily that matched the vaccine antigen, there can be large differences in anti-FHbp bactericidal activity induced by MenB-4C vaccination. Further, strains with moderate to high NadA and/or NHba expression can be resistant to anti-NadA or anti-NHba bactericidal activity elicited by MenB-4C vaccination.

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