A meningococcal group B vaccine containing multiple protein antigens including factor H binding protein (fHbp) and Neisserial heparin binding antigen (NHba) is in clinical development. The ability of antibodies against individual antigens to interact and augment protective immunity is unknown. We assayed human complement-mediated bactericidal activity (SBA) in stored sera from six immunized adults before and after depletion of antibodies to fHbp and/or NHba. All six subjects developed ≥ 4-fold increases in SBA titer against a test strain with fHbp in the variant 1 group with an amino acid sequence that matched the vaccine antigen (GMT <1:4 baseline, to 1:139 after 3 doses of vaccine). By adsorption 88 to >95% of the SBA was directed against fHbp. Four subjects developed ≥ 4-fold increases in SBA titer against a test strain with a heterologous fHbp variant 2 antigen and a homologous NHba amino acid sequence that matched the vaccine antigen (GMT <1:4 baseline, to 1:45). SBA was directed primarily against NHba in one subject, against fHbp in a second, while depletion of either anti-NHba or anti-fHbp antibody removed the majority of SBA in sera from two subjects. In all four subjects, depletion of both anti-fHbp and anti-NHba antibodies removed more SBA than depletion of either antibody individually. Mixing a mouse non-bactericidal anti-fHbp variant 1 antiserum with a mouse anti-NHba antiserum also augmented the anti-NHba SBA titer against this test strain. For meningococcal vaccines that target relatively sparsely exposed antigens such fHbp or NHba, non-bactericidal antibodies against individual antigens can cooperate and elicit SBA.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.