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Infect Immun. 2005 Jul;73(7):4198-204.

Protective properties of rifampin-resistant rough mutants of Brucella melitensis.

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Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Dipartimento di Sanità Alimentare ed Animale, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Vaccination against Brucella infections in animals is usually performed by administration of live attenuated smooth B. abortus strain S19 and B. melitensis strain Rev1. They are proven effective vaccines against B. abortus in cattle and against B. melitensis and B. ovis in sheep and goats, respectively. However, both vaccines have the main drawback of inducing O-polysaccharide-specific antibodies that interfere with serologic diagnosis of disease. In addition, they retain residual virulence, being a cause of abortion in pregnant animals and infection in humans. To overcome these problems, one approach is to develop defined rough mutant Brucella strains lacking O antigen of lipopolysaccharide. B. abortus rough strain RB51, a rifampin-resistant mutant of virulent strain B. abortus 2308, is used as a vaccine against B. abortus infection in cattle in some countries. However, RB51 is not effective in sheep, and there is only preliminary evidence that it is effective in goats. In this study, we tested the efficacies of six rifampin-resistant rough strains of B. melitensis in protecting BALB/c mice exposed to B. melitensis infection. The protective properties, as well as both humoral and cellular immune responses, were assessed in comparison with those provided by B. melitensis Rev1 and B. abortus RB51 vaccines. The results indicated that these rough mutants were able to induce a very good level of protection against B. melitensis infection, similar to that provided by Rev1 and superior to that of RB51, without inducing antibodies to O antigen. In addition, all B. melitensis mutants were able to stimulate good production of gamma interferon. The characteristics of these strains encourage further evaluation of them as alternative vaccines to Rev1 in primary host species.

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