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Anthrax Vaccine Precipitated Induces Edema Toxin-Neutralizing, Edema Factor-Specific Antibodies in Human Recipients.

Edema toxin (ET), composed of edema factor (EF) and protective antigen (PA), is a virulence factor of Bacillus anthracis that alters host immune cell function and contributes to anthrax disease. Anthrax vaccine precipitated (AVP) contains low but detectable levels of EF and can elicit EF-specific antibodies in human recipients of AVP. Active and passive vaccination of mice with EF can contribute to protection from challenge with Bacillus anthracis spores or ET. This study compared humoral responses to ET in recipients of AVP ( n = 33) versus anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA; n = 66), matched for number of vaccinations and time postvaccination, and further determined whether EF antibodies elicited by AVP contribute to ET neutralization. AVP induced higher incidence (77.8%) and titer (229.8 ± 58.6) of EF antibodies than AVA (4.2% and 7.8 ± 8.3, respectively), reflecting the reported low but detectable presence of EF in AVP. In contrast, PA IgG levels and ET neutralization measured using a luciferase-based cyclic AMP reporter assay were robust and did not differ between the two vaccine groups. Multiple regression analysis failed to detect an independent contribution of EF antibodies to ET neutralization in AVP recipients; however, EF antibodies purified from AVP sera neutralized ET. Serum samples from at least half of EF IgG-positive AVP recipients bound to nine decapeptides located in EF domains II and III. Although PA antibodies are primarily responsible for ET neutralization in recipients of AVP, increased amounts of an EF component should be investigated for the capacity to enhance next-generation, PA-based vaccines.

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