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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2009 Nov;57(2):165-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2009.00595.x. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Poly-gamma-d-glutamic acid and protective antigen conjugate vaccines induce functional antibodies against the protective antigen and capsule of Bacillus anthracis in guinea-pigs and rabbits.

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Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of High-Risk Pathogen Research, Korea National Institute of Health, Seoul, Korea.


Anthrax is a lethal infectious disease caused by the spore-forming Bacillus anthracis. The two major virulence factors of B. anthracis are exotoxin and the poly-gamma-d-glutamic acid (PGA) capsule. The three components of the exotoxin, protective antigen (PA), lethal factor and edema factor act in a binary combination, which results in massive edema and organ failure in the progress of anthrax disease. The antiphagocytic PGA capsule disguises the bacilli from immune surveillance and allows unimpeded growth of bacilli in the host. Because PA can elicit a protective immune response, it has been a target of the anthrax vaccine. In addition to PA, efforts have been made to include PGA as a component of the anthrax vaccine. In this study, we report that PA-PGA conjugates induce expressions of anti-PA, anti-PGA and toxin-neutralizing antibodies in guinea-pigs and completely protect guinea-pigs against a 50 x LD(50) challenge with fully virulent B. anthracis spores. Polyclonal rabbit antisera produced against either PA or ovalbumin conjugated to a PGA-15mer offer a partial passive protection to guinea-pigs against B. anthracis infection, indicating that anti-PGA antibodies play a protective role. Our results demonstrate that PA-PGA conjugate vaccines are effective in the guinea-pig model, in addition to the previously reported mouse model.

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