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Clin Exp Immunol. 1991 Jul;85(1):98-108.

Analysis of the cells involved in the lymphoproliferative response to Coxiella burnetii antigens.

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Department of Pathology, University of Adelaide, Australia.


Vaccination with an inactivated, whole cell, Q fever vaccine (Q-vax) induces lasting antibody conversion and a positive delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin reaction in about 60% of recipients but a long-lasting positive lymphoproliferative or mitogenic response to C. burnetii antigens with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in 85-95% of subjects. Analysis of the lymphoproliferative response to C. burnetii antigens has now been made by fractionation-reconstitution experiments with PBMC from vaccines, from past infections, and from healthy controls. The major contributor to the response in immune subjects proved to be the T lymphocyte. T cells were stimulated by both the phase I and phase II antigens of two prototype strains of C. burnetii and responses were greatly amplified by addition of IL-2. Similar T lymphocyte stimulation profiles were obtained with the 'Priscilla' strain of C. burnetii which represents a different biotype of Coxiella isolated from Q fever endocarditis; Q-vax is therefore likely to protect against endocarditis strains. Fractionation-reconstitution experiments with T and B cells from vaccines and subjects infected in the past, using various antigenic or haptenic fractions from C. burnetii indicate that protein, non-lipopolysaccharide components of the organism are responsible for the mitogenic response of immune T cells. However, the role of the lipopolysaccharide in the protective immunogen has still to be defined.

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