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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1999 May;24(1):73-8.

Detection of IgG and IgM to meningococcal outer membrane proteins in relation to carriage of Neisseria meningitidis or Neisseria lactamica.

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Meningococcal Reference Laboratory, National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece.


Carriage of non-serogroupable Neisseria meningitidis or Neisseria lactamica induces antibodies protective against meningococcal disease. Antibodies directed against outer membrane proteins are bactericidal and the serotype and subtype outer membrane protein antigens are being examined for their value as vaccine candidates for serogroup B disease. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of carriage of these two Neisseria species among children and young adults on induction of antibodies to outer membrane components from strains causing disease in Greece. Among 53 patients with meningococcal disease, IgG or IgM antibodies were detected by ELISA in 9 of 13 (69%) from whom the bacteria were isolated and 27 of 40 (67%) who were culture-negative. For military recruits (n = 604), the proportion of carriers of meningococci with IgM or IgG to outer membrane proteins was higher than non-carriers, P < 0.05 and P = 0.000000, respectively. Among school children (n = 319), the proportion with IgM or IgG to outer membrane proteins for carriers of meningococci was higher compared with non-carriers, P = 0.000000 and P = 0000043, respectively. Carriage of N. lactamica was not associated with the presence of either IgM or IgG to the outer membrane proteins in the children. The higher proportion of children (50%) with IgM to outer membrane proteins compared with recruits (10%) might reflect more recent exposure and primary immune responses to the bacteria. The lack of association between antibodies to outer membrane proteins and carriage of N. lactamica could reflect observations that the majority of N. lactamica isolates from Greece and other countries do not react with monoclonal typing reagents. Bactericidal antibodies to meningococci associated with high levels of IgG to N. lactamica were found in a previous study; these are thought to be directed to antigens other than outer membrane proteins or capsules and imply antigens such as lipo-oligosaccharide are involved in induction of antibodies cross-reactive with meningococci.

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