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Abstract

Several studies have established the potential efficacy of humoral immunity, primarily mannan-specific antibodies, in host protection against major fungal pathogen Candida albicans. In this study, we analysed humoral immune response induced by immunization with BSA-based conjugates bearing synthetic α-1,6-branched oligomannosides (pentamannosides (M5) or hexamannosides (M6)) mimicking antigenic sequences of Candida cell wall mannan. We analysed the ability of antibodies prepared by immunization to recognize relevant antigenic determinants in mannan polysaccharide structure and in C. albicans yeast and hyphal morphoforms. M6-BSA conjugate induced markedly higher levels of mannan-specific IgG compared with M5-BSA conjugate. In contrast to M5-BSA conjugate, M6-BSA conjugate induced immunoglobulin isotype class switch from IgM to IgG, as revealed also from ELISPOT analysis. Immunization-induced antibodies showed higher reactivity with hyphal form of C. albicans cells. The reduced immunogenicity of M5-BSA conjugate seems to be related to branching point location at terminal non-reducing end in comparison with M6-BSA oligomannoside with branching point at non-terminal location. Candidacidal activity assay revealed different capacity of sera prepared by immunization with M5-BSA and M6-BSA conjugates to improve candidacidal activity of polymorphonuclear leucocytes. Limited capacity of α-1,6-branched oligomannoside – BSA conjugates to induce antibodies significantly enhancing candidacidal activity of polymorphonuclear leucocytes – was presumably related to absence of antibodies with strong reactivity to corresponding antigenic determinants in natural cell wall mannan and with reduced ability to activate complement. The study documented markedly structure-dependent immunogenicity and limited capacity of branched α-mannooligosides conjugates to induce production of potentially protective antibodies.