Immunogenicity of 2 serogroup B outer-membrane protein meningococcal vaccines: a randomized controlled trial in Chile

JAMA. 1999 Apr 28;281(16):1520-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.281.16.1520.


Context: Meningococcal disease occurs worldwide, and serogroup B disease accounts for a large proportion of cases. Although persons younger than 4 years are at greatest risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease, vaccine efficacy has not been demonstrated in this age group.

Objective: To evaluate serum bactericidal activity (SBA) against homologous vaccine type strains and a heterologous Chilean epidemic strain of Neisseria meningitidis as a potential correlate for vaccine efficacy.

Design: Double-blind, randomized controlled trial conducted between March 14 and July 20, 1994. All blood samples were taken by December 1994.

Setting: Santiago, Chile, where a clonal serogroup B meningococcal disease epidemic began in 1993.

Participants: Infants younger than 1 year (n = 187), children aged 2 to 4 years (n = 183), and adults aged 17 to 30 years (n = 173).

Intervention: Participants received 3 doses of outer-membrane protein (OMP) meningococcal vaccine developed in either Cuba or Norway or a control vaccine, with each dose given 2 months apart. Blood samples were obtained at baseline, prior to dose 3, and at 4 to 6 weeks after dose 3.

Main outcome measure: Immune response, defined as a 4-fold or greater rise in SBA titer 4 to 6 weeks after dose 3 compared with prevaccination titer.

Results: Children and adult recipients of either meningococcal vaccine were more likely than controls to develop an immune response to the heterologous epidemic strain. After 3 doses of vaccine, 31% to 35% of children responded to the vaccine vs 5% to placebo; 37% to 60% of adults responded to vaccine vs 4% to placebo (P<.05 vs control for all). Infants, however, did not respond. In contrast, against homologous vaccine type strains, the response rate was 67% or higher among children and adults and 90% or higher among infants (P<.001 vs control for all). Subsequent SBA against 7 isogenic homologous target strains identified class 1 OMP as the immunodominant antigen.

Conclusions: These data suggest that neither serogroup B OMP meningococcal vaccine would confer protection during a heterologous epidemic. However, epidemic strain-specific vaccines homologous for class 1 OMP are promising candidates for the control of epidemic serogroup B meningococcal disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Blood Bactericidal Activity
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chile
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meningococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Neisseria meningitidis / classification*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / genetics
  • Neisseria meningitidis / immunology*
  • Serotyping


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Meningococcal Vaccines