Whole cholera toxin and B subunit act synergistically as an adjuvant for the mucosal immune response of mice to keyhole limpet haemocyanin

Scand J Immunol. 1990 Apr;31(4):443-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.1990.tb02791.x.


Cholera toxin (CT) is a potent stimulator of IgA responses when administered orally and has been shown to promote IgA responses to a second protein such as keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) if this is fed simultaneously. In this paper we show that whilst feeding 5 mg KLH with either 0.5 micrograms CT or 10 micrograms B subunit fails to stimulate a mucosal IgA response to KLH, feeding 0.5 microgram CT and 10 micrograms B subunit together with 5 mg KLH produces a local IgA anti-KLH response as great as that produced by 10 micrograms of whole CT. In addition to stimulating IgA responses in the lamina propria, preliminary results indicate that cellular responses are also stimulated, as we have demonstrated KLH antigen-driven proliferation of cells isolated from groups of mice fed either 10 micrograms CT + 5 mg KLH or 0.5 micrograms CT + 10 micrograms CTB + 5 mg KLH but not mice fed KLH alone or with either 10 micrograms CTB or 0.5 micrograms CT. These results indicate that the mucosal adjuvant action of CT is due to a synergistic effect involving both the GM1 binding of the B subunit and adenylate cyclase activation by the A subunit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / analysis
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / physiology
  • Cholera Toxin / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • G(M1) Ganglioside / metabolism
  • Hemocyanins / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Peptide Fragments
  • G(M1) Ganglioside
  • cholera toxin, B subunit (50-64)
  • Cholera Toxin
  • Hemocyanins
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • keyhole-limpet hemocyanin