Immunogenicity of meningococcal B polysaccharide conjugated to tetanus toxoid or CRM197 via adipic acid dihydrazide

Vaccine. 1995 Apr;13(5):463-70. doi: 10.1016/0264-410x(94)00007-a.


Vaccine development against Group B Neisseria meningitidis is complicated by the nature of the capsular polysaccharide, which is alpha 2-8-linked poly-sialic acid, identical in structure to the poly-sialic acid found in many mammalian tissues during development. To test the feasibility of a vaccine based on this polysaccharide, we synthesized several conjugates of meningococcal B polysaccharide linked to a carrier protein (tetanus toxoid or diphtheria CRM197), via an adipic acid dihydrazide (ADH) spacer. All conjugates induced a strong immune response. However, most of the antibodies were not directed against the Meningococcus B polysaccharide and could not be inhibited by the purified polysaccharide alone. Further investigations showed that the antibodies recognized an epitope composed by the junction between the spacer and the polysaccharide and protein, that is not present in the native polysaccharide and is generated during the coupling reaction. This epitope becomes immunodominant with respect to the poorly immunogenic polysaccharide. While the majority of the immune response is directed against the above epitope, the conjugates induced also an immune response against the Meningococcus B polysaccharide. The anti-Meningococcus B antibodies elicited are of the IgM and IgG class and are inhibitable by the polysaccharide. Moreover, they are bactericidal, thus suggesting that they would induce protection against disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adipates / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Bacterial Capsules
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Vaccines / chemical synthesis
  • Bacterial Vaccines / pharmacology
  • Diphtheria Toxin / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epitopes
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / prevention & control
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neisseria meningitidis / immunology*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Tetanus Toxoid / pharmacology*
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / chemistry


  • Adipates
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Diphtheria Toxin
  • Epitopes
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Vaccines, Conjugate
  • capsular polysaccharide, meningococcal group B
  • CRM197 (non-toxic variant of diphtheria toxin)
  • adipic dihydrazide