Assessment of the duration of protection in Campylobacter jejuni experimental infection in humans

Infect Immun. 2010 Apr;78(4):1750-9. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01021-09. Epub 2010 Jan 19.


A human Campylobacter jejuni infection model provided controlled exposure to assess vaccine efficacy and investigate protective immunity for this important diarrheal pathogen. A well-characterized outbreak strain, C. jejuni 81-176, was investigated using a volunteer experimental infection model to evaluate the dose range and duration of protection. Healthy Campylobacter-seronegative adults received C. jejuni strain 81-176 via oral inoculation of 10(5), 10(7), or 10(9) CFU (5 adults/dose), which was followed by clinical and immunological monitoring. Based on dose range clinical outcomes, the 10(9)-CFU dose (n = 31) was used to assess homologous protection at 28 to 49 days (short-term veterans [STV]; n = 8) or 1 year (long-term veterans [LTV]; n = 7) after primary infection. An illness dose effect was observed for naïve subjects (with lower doses, 40 to 60% of the subjects were ill; with the 10(9)-CFU dose, 92% of the subjects were ill) along with complete protection for the STV group and attenuated illness for the LTV group (57%). Partial resistance to colonization was seen in STV (25% of the subjects were not infected; 3-log-lower maximum excretion level). Systemic and mucosal immune responses were robust in naïve subjects irrespective of the dose or the severity of illness. In contrast, in STV there was a lack of circulating antibody-secreting cells (ASC), reflecting the local mucosal effector responses. LTV exhibited comparable ASC responses to primary infection, and anamnestic fecal IgA responses likely contributed to self-resolving illness prior to antibiotic treatment. Campylobacter antigen-dependent production of gamma interferon by peripheral blood mononuclear cells was strongly associated with protection from illness, supporting the hypothesis that TH1 polarization has a primary role in acquired immunity to C. jejuni. This study revealed a C. jejuni dose-related increase in campylobacteriosis rates, evidence of complete short-term protection that waned with time, and immune response patterns associated with protection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Bacterial Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Campylobacter Infections / immunology
  • Campylobacter Infections / pathology
  • Campylobacter Infections / prevention & control*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / immunology*
  • Diarrhea / immunology
  • Diarrhea / pathology
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Human Experimentation
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Interferon-gamma