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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2000 Feb;27(2):103-9.

Antigenic cross-reactivity between outer membrane proteins of Neisseria meningitidis and commensal Neisseria species.

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Departamento de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


Two mouse sera against outer membrane proteins from a pathogenic Neisseria meningitidis strain and a commensal N. lactamica strain and two human sera from patients recovering from meningococcal meningitis were used to identify antigens common to pathogenic and commensal Neisseria species. Two major antigens of 55 kDa and 32 kDa, present in all N. meningitidis and N. lactamica strains tested, were demonstrable with all the sera used; the 55-kDa protein was iron-regulated. Demonstration of other common antigens was dependent on the serum used: a 65-kDa antigen was visualised with the human and the mouse anti-N. lactamica sera; a 37-kDa antigen identified as the meningococcal ferric binding protein (FbpA) was only detected with the mouse sera, and two antigens of 83 kDa and 15 kDa were only shown with the mouse anti-N. meningitidis serum. The results demonstrate the existence of several outer membrane antigens common to N. lactamica and N. meningitidis strains, in agreement with the hypothesis that natural immunity against meningitis is partially acquired through colonisation by commensal species, and open new perspectives for the design of vaccine formulations and the development of strategies for vaccination against meningitis.

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