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Vaccine. 1999 Apr 9;17(15-16):2020-9.

Induction of immune responses in pigs following oral administration of purified F4 fimbriae.

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Laboratory of Veterinary Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiteit Gent, Merelbeke, Belgium.


An effective way of stimulating the mucosal immune system was examined in piglets, using F4 fimbriae of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC). It was demonstrated that purified F4 fimbriae, as opposed to ovalbumin (OVA), are powerful oral immunogens. Indeed, oral administration of purified F4 induced antigen-specific antibody-secreting cells (ASC) in the Peyer's patches, mesenteric lymph nodes (LN), blood and lamina propria 4, 7, 9 and 11 days postimmunization, respectively, indicating a stimulation of the mucosal immune system, whereas upon oral administration of OVA, no immune response was observed. Moreover, the induced F4-specific IgA and IgG antibody responses were comparable with those obtained upon oral infection with viable E. coli and intramuscular (i.m.) F4 injection, respectively. Furthermore, a priming of the mucosal immune system is better obtained by oral infection (ASC localized in mesenteric LN) than by i.m. F4 injection (ASC localized in spleen and retropharyngeal LN) since an oral boost with purified F4 induced a secondary response in the orally infected animal (mainly IgA and IgG ASC, rapid increase of IgA antibodies) while in the i.m. primed animal a secondary (more circulating antigen-specific ASC than in the unprimed animal) as well as a primary IgM and IgA response (mainly IgM ASC, slow increase of IgA antibodies), suggesting a primary mucosal response, were seen. An oral challenge of the naive control displayed a primary response (mainly IgM ASC, slow increase of IgA and IgG antibodies). The capacity of purified F4 to activate the mucosal immune system on oral administration, is of importance for the development of oral vaccines against ETEC infections.

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