Induction of immunologic refractoriness in adults by meningococcal C polysaccharide vaccination

J Infect Dis. 1998 Sep;178(3):870-4. doi: 10.1086/515346.


Thirty-four adults were vaccinated with 1/50 of the usual dose of meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (1 microg of A, C, Y, and W135 polysaccharides, given intramuscularly). This dose was selected as a probe to assess B cell memory. The probe elicited meningococcal C bactericidal antibody responses in all 18 adults who had been vaccinated 4 years earlier with an investigational meningococcal A and C oligosaccharide-protein conjugate vaccine and in the majority of the 11 subjects vaccinated for the first time. In contrast, the responses of the 5 adults given a full dose of licensed polysaccharide vaccine 4 years earlier were <1/10 of those of the other 2 groups. Thus, adults previously given a full dose of meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine show evidence of immunologic refractoriness to group C polysaccharide, whereas refractoriness is not observed after conjugate vaccination. These findings have implications for the use of meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine when the risk of disease is low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Middle Aged
  • Neisseria meningitidis / immunology*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • Vaccines, Conjugate
  • meningococcal group A polysaccharide
  • meningococcal group C polysaccharide