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Vaccine. 2009 Jun 24;27 Suppl 2:B117-25. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.04.066. Epub 2009 May 23.

Relative importance of complement-mediated bactericidal and opsonic activity for protection against meningococcal disease.

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Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, 5700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, CA 94609, USA.


Killing of Neisseria meningitidis can result from complement-mediated serum bactericidal activity (SBA) or opsonophagocytosis (OPA), or a combination of the two mechanisms. While SBA titers > or =1:4 confer protection, recent evidence suggests that this threshold titer may not be required. For example, the incidence of meningococcal disease declines between ages 1 and 4 years without evidence of acquisition of SBA titers > or =1:4. Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccination also elicited OPA and lowered the risk of disease in patients with late complement component deficiencies whose sera did not support SBA. Sera from healthy adults immunized with an outer membrane vesicle vaccine showed OPA killing of N. meningitidis with C6-depleted complement, and whole blood from complement-sufficient non-immunized adults with SBA titers <1:4 also frequently had killing activity. Collectively the data indicate that SBA titers <1:4 and/or vaccine-induced OPA can confer protection against meningococcal disease.

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