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J Infect Dis. 2004 Oct 15;190(8):1488-97. Epub 2004 Sep 9.

Putative vaccine antigens from Neisseria meningitidis recognized by serum antibodies of young children convalescing after meningococcal disease.

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Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Wright-Fleming Institute, Imperial College London, St. Mary's Hospital Campus, London, United Kingdom.


Serum samples from 31 children < or = 4 years old who were convalescing after meningococcal disease were used in a quantitative hybridization assay to establish antibody reactivity to 94 candidate meningococcal vaccine antigens. Genes encoding 22 of 23 strongly recognized proteins were found in > or = 94% of the patients' meningococcal strains, and most were also widely prevalent in Neisseria lactamica and other commensal Neisseria species. Similar antibody reactivity was found in serum samples from healthy control children, suggesting that these antibodies arose from asymptomatic colonization. The 23rd protein, NadA, elicited strong reactivity solely in convalescent patients previously infected with a nadA+ strain. nadA was not present in any of 29 diverse N. lactamica strains, suggesting that reactivity in these children arose from meningococcal infection. In contrast, serum samples from healthy adults contained anti-NadA immunoglobulin G at high levels. The correlation of NadA antibody level with natural acquisition of protective immunity suggests that NadA may be a valuable component of a childhood antimeningococcal vaccine.

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