Cross-reactive antibodies prevent the lethal effects of Staphylococcus aureus superantigens

J Infect Dis. 1999 Oct;180(4):1365-9. doi: 10.1086/314977.


The exotoxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus, staphylococcal enterotoxins (SE) A-E and toxic shock syndrome toxin (TSST)-1, which are associated with serious diseases, including food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome, are termed superantigens (SAgs). To examine whether common antigenic epitopes were present and whether vaccination with 1 bacterial SAg could protect against challenge with a different SE or TSST-1, mice were vaccinated with SEA, SEB, SEC1, or TSST-1 individually or in combination. Mice injected with a single toxin developed high antibody titers against other SAgs. Marked improvement in survival was observed when immunized mice were challenged with a heterologous toxin. Mice vaccinated with a mixture of toxins were fully protected against 1 or multiple toxin challenges, indicating no interference effects of multivalent vaccinations. More importantly, higher titers were found against each SAg with the multivalent vaccination than with injection with a single SAg. Thus, immunizations with 1 SAg can induce cross-protective antibodies to heterologous SAgs, and multicomponent vaccination can enhance antibody responses against each bacterial SAg.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Antibody Formation
  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Enterotoxins / immunology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology*
  • Superantigens / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Superantigens
  • enterotoxin F, Staphylococcal
  • enterotoxin A, Staphylococcal
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal
  • enterotoxin C, staphylococcal