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Keywords:

  • Antibodies;
  • Francisella tularensis;
  • Vaccine

Abstract

Francisella tularensis (FT) has been classified by the CDC as a category A pathogen because of its high virulence and the high mortality rate associated with infection via the aerosol route. Because there is no licensed vaccine available for FT, development of prophylactic and therapeutic regimens for the prevention/treatment of infection is a high priority. In this report, heat-killed FT live vaccine strain (HKLVS) was employed as a vaccine immunogen, either alone or in combination with an adjuvant, and was found to elicit protective immunity against high-dose FT live vaccine strain (FTLVS) challenge. FT-specific antibodies produced in response to immunization with HKLVS alone were subsequently found to completely protect naive mice against high-dose FT challenge in both infection-interference and passive immunization experiments. Additional passive immunization trials employing serum collected from mice immunized with a heat-killed preparation of an O-antigen-deficient transposon mutant of FTLVS (HKLVS-OAgneg) yielded similar results. These findings demonstrated that FT-specific antibodies alone can confer immunity against high-dose FTLVS challenge, and they reveal that antibody-mediated protection is not dependent upon production of LPS-specific antibodies.