[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infection of the central nervous system is considered a complication of Anthrax and was reported in humans and non-human primates. Previously we have reported that Bacillus anthracis possesses a toxin-independent virulent trait that, like the toxins, is regulated by the major virulence regulator, AtxA, in the presence of pXO2. This toxin-independent lethal trait is exhibited in rabbits and Guinea pigs following significant bacteremia and organ dissemination. Various findings, including meningitis seen in humans and primates, suggested that the CNS is a possible target for this AtxA-mediated activity. In order to penetrate into the brain tissue, the bacteria have to overcome the barriers isolating the CNS from the blood stream. Taking a systematic genetic approach, we compared intracranial (IC) inoculation and IV/SC inoculation for the outcome of the infection in rabbits/GP, respectively. The outstanding difference between the two models is exhibited by the encapsulated strain VollumΔpXO1, which is lethal when injected IC, but asymptomatic when inoculated IV/SC. The findings demonstrate that there is an apparent bottleneck in the ability of mutants to penetrate into the brain. Any mutant carrying either pXO1 or pXO2 will kill the host upon IC injection, but only those carrying AtxA either on pXO1 or in the chromosome in the background of pXO2 can penetrate into the brain following peripheral inoculation. The findings were corroborated by histological examination by H&E staining and immunofluorescence of rabbits' brains following IV and IC inoculations. These findings may have major implications on future research both on B. anthracis pathogenicity and on vaccine development.
PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e112319. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112319 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The accepted paradigm states that anthrax is both an invasive and toxinogenic disease and that the toxins play a major role in pathogenicity. In the guinea pig (GP) model we have previously shown that deletion of all three toxin components results in a relatively moderate attenuation in virulence, indicating that B. anthracis possesses an additional toxin-independent virulence mechanism. To characterize this toxin-independent mechanism in anthrax disease, we developed a new rabbit model by intravenous injection (IV) of B. anthracis encapsulated vegetative cells, artificially creating bacteremia. Using this model we were able to demonstrate that also in rabbits, B. anthracis mutants lacking the toxins are capable of killing the host within 24 hours. This virulent trait depends on the activity of AtxA in the presence of pXO2, as, in the absence of the toxin genes, deletion of either component abolishes virulence. Furthermore, this IV virulence depends mainly on AtxA rather than the whole pXO1. A similar pattern was shown in the GP model using subcutaneous (SC) administration of spores of the mutant strains, demonstrating the generality of the phenomenon. The virulent strains showed higher bacteremia levels and more efficient tissue dissemination; however our interpretation is that tissue dissemination per se is not the main determinant of virulence whose exact nature requires further elucidation.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e84947. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0084947 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The virulence of Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, stems from its antiphagocytic capsule, encoded by pXO2, and the tripartite toxins encoded
by pXO1. The accepted paradigm states that anthrax is both an invasive and toxinogenic disease and that the toxins play major
roles in pathogenicity. We tested this assumption by a systematic study of mutants with combined deletions of the pag, lef, and cya genes, encoding protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF), and edema factor (EF), respectively. The resulting seven mutants
(single, double, and triple) were evaluated following subcutaneous (s.c.) and intranasal (i.n.) inoculation in rabbits and
guinea pigs. In the rabbit model, virulence is completely dependent on the presence of PA. Any mutant bearing a pag deletion behaved like a pXO1-cured mutant, exhibiting complete loss of virulence with attenuation indices of over 2,500,000
or 1,250 in the s.c. or i.n. route of infection, respectively. In marked contrast, in guinea pigs, deletion of pag or even of all three toxin components resulted in relatively moderate attenuation, whereas the pXO1-cured bacteria showed
complete attenuation. The results indicate that a pXO1-encoded factor(s), other than the toxins, has a major contribution
to the virulence mechanism of B. anthracis in the guinea pig model. These unexpected toxin-dependent and toxin-independent manifestations of pathogenicity in different
animal models emphasize the importance and need for a comprehensive evaluation of B. anthracis virulence in general and in particular for the design of relevant next-generation anthrax vaccines.
Infection and immunity 05/2012; 80(8):2623-31. DOI:10.1128/IAI.00244-12 · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacillus anthracis secretes three major components, which assemble into two bipartite toxins: lethal toxin (LT), composed of lethal factor (LF) and protective antigen (PA) and edema toxin (ET), composed of edema factor (EF) and PA. EF is a potent calmodulin-dependent adenylate cyclase, which is internalized into the target cell following PA binding. Once inside the cell, EF elevates cAMP levels, interrupting intracellular signaling. Effects of ET were demonstrated on monocytes, neutrophils and T-cells. In an earlier work we demonstrated that a deletion of LF in a fully virulent strain had no effect in guinea pigs and a significant, but not major, effect in the rabbit model. These results suggested that EF might play an important role in the development of infection and mortality following exposure to B. anthracis spores. To evaluate the role of EF in B. anthracis pathogenicity we deleted the cya gene, which encodes the EF protein, in the fully virulent Vollum strain. The Δcya mutant was fully virulent in the guinea pig model as determined by LD(50) experiments. In the rabbit model, when infected subcutaneously, the absence of EF had no effect on the virulence of the mutant. However an increase of two orders of magnitude in the LD(50) was demonstrated when the rabbits were infected by intranasal instillation accompanied with partial mortality and increased mean time to death. These results argue that in the guinea pig model the presence of one of the toxins, ET or LT is sufficient for the development of the infection. In the rabbit model ET plays a role in respiratory infection, most probably mediating the early steps of host colonization.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The major virulence factor of Bacillus anthracis is the tripartite anthrax toxin, comprising the protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF) and edema factor (EF). The LF of B. anthracis is a metalloprotease that has been shown to play an important role in pathogenicity. Deletion of this gene (lef) in the Sterne strain was reported to dramatically reduce the pathogenicity of this strain in mice, and was reported to be as dramatic as the deletion of PA. We evaluated the effect on pathogenicity of the lef deletion in the fully virulent Vollum strain in guinea pigs and NZW rabbits by either subcutaneous injection or intranasal instillation. In guinea pigs, no major differences between the mutant strain and the wild type could be detected in the LD(50) or mean time to death values. On the other hand, the lef deletion caused death of 50-70% of all rabbits infected with the mutant spores at doses equivalent or higher than the wild type LD(50). The surviving rabbits, which were infected with spore doses higher than the wild type LD(50), developed a protective immune response that conferred resistance to challenge with the wild type strain. These findings may indicate that the mutant lacking the LF is capable of host colonization which causes death in 50-70% of the animals and a protective immune response in the others. These results indicate that unlike the data obtained in mice, the LF mutation does not abolish B. anthracis pathogenicity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Respiratory anthrax, in the absence of early antibiotic treatment, is a fatal disease. This study aimed to test the efficiency of antibiotic therapy in curing infected animals and those sick with anthrax. Postexposure prophylaxis (24 h postinfection [p.i.]) of guinea pigs infected intranasally with Bacillus anthracis Vollum spores with doxycycline, ofloxacin, imipenem, and gentamicin conferred protection. However, upon termination of treatment, the animals died from respiratory anthrax. Combined treatment with antibiotics and active vaccination with a protective antigen-based vaccine leads to full protection even after cessation of treatment. Delaying the initiation of antibiotic administration to over 24 h p.i. resulted in treatment of animals with anthrax exhibiting various degrees of bacteremia and toxemia. Treatment with doxycycline or ciprofloxacin cured sick guinea pigs and rabbits exhibiting bacteremia levels up to 10(5) CFU/ml. Addition of anti-protective antigen (PA) antibodies augmented the efficiency of protection, allowing the cure of guinea pigs and rabbits with 10- to 20-fold-higher bacteremia levels, up to 7 × 10(5) CFU/ml and 2 × 10(6) CFU/ml, respectively. Treatment with ciprofloxacin and a monoclonal anti-PA antibody rescued rabbits with bacteremia levels up to 4 × 10(6) CFU/ml. During antibiotic administration, all surviving animals developed a protective immune response against development of a fatal disease and subcutaneous challenge with Vollum spores. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that antibiotic treatment can prevent the development of fatal disease in respiratory-anthrax-infected animals and can cure animals after disease establishment. A therapeutic time window of 40 h to 48 h from infection to initiation of efficient antibiotic-mediated cure was observed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Respiratory anthrax is a fatal disease in the absence of early therapy with antibiotics. Guinea pigs are highly sensitive
to infection with Bacillus anthracis spores by intranasal spore instillation succumbing within 2 to 4 days post infection. Post exposure prophylaxis that initiated
24h post infection with tetracycline, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, erythromycin, gentamicin or imipenem protected
the animals, but after termination of treatment the animals developed a fatal anthrax disease. Combined treatment with antibiotics
and active immunization with PA based vaccine conferred an efficient immune response that prevented the development of a fatal
anthrax disease after termination of antibiotic administration. The CDC recommended in case of a major bioterrorist attack
a mass distribution of antibiotics within 48h. As the onset of symptoms in humans were reported to start on day 1–7 post
exposure, this delay in initiation of treatment may result in treatment of sick populations. We evaluated the efficacy of
late antibiotic administration starting from 30h post infections and every 6h thereafter, to cure respiratory anthrax sick
animals. Administration of ciprofloxacin provided efficient protection up to 44h post infection, at which time 60% of the
sick animals survived. Administration of doxycycline cured up to 48h post infection, when up to 75% of the sick animals survived.
The antibiotic administration protected most animals with bacteremia level up to 105 CFU/ml, but failed to protect animals exhibiting higher levels of bacteremia. In conclusion these results demonstrate the
efficacy of antibiotic treatment to cure animals even after the onset of the disease.
-Antibiotics-Post exposure prophylaxis-Curing sick animals-Respiratory anthrax
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Classification and differentiation of Bacillus anthracis isolates by genetic markers play an important role in the study of anthrax epidemiology. We have applied a PCR based method
– Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) to identify twenty-five B. anthracis genetic markers. These markers allowed for classification of the studied strains into five different groups. Three selected
RAPD markers were cloned and sequenced. Typical integration of the three markers allowed for specific definition of the five
RAPD derived genotypes. To test the universal power of these markers to discriminate between diverse B. anthracis strains, the nucleotide sequence of each marker was searched against all available B. anthracis genome sequences (both finished and unfinished). The three markers system could differentiate between strains belonging to
the genetic groups Aβ, A1a, A1b, A4 and B1 (as defined by Keim et al., 2000; Maho et al., 2006) and gave rise to a unique
combination for group A3, but couldn’t distinguish between the sub groups A3a and A3b. In addition, this system could not
distinguish between groups B2 and C (identical three marker combination). In an attempt to improve the resolution of this
system we introduced a fourth marker. In silico analysis revealed that the resulting four markers system could now differentiate
between group B2 and C, adding a second genotype to groups A1a, A3a and A4. This four marker system could potentially provide
an accurate, simple, and inexpensive agarose-based system for classification B. anthracis strains in laboratories involved in research of this bacterium.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The involvement of TLR2 receptor in the innate response to infection with Bacillus anthracis was investigated. We studied the response to virulent or attenuated Vollum strains in either in vitro assays using macrophage cultures, or in an in vivo model comparing the sensitivity of Syrian hamster cells (expressing normal TLR2) to Chinese hamster cells (lacking functional TLR2) to infection by the various B. anthracis strains. Phagocytosis experiments with murine cell cultures or primary macrophages from both hamster strains, using virulent or attenuated Tox(+)Cap(-), Tox(-)Cap(+) or Tox(-)Cap(-) spores indicated that the secretion of TNF-alpha was induced by all the bacterial spores and purified spore antigens. In contrast, capsular antigens induce secretion of TNF-alpha only by Syrian hamster macrophages indicating the involvement of a functional TLR2 in macrophage activation. Challenge experiments with both hamster strains by intranasal spore inoculation, indicated that, while both strains are equally sensitive to infection with the virulent strain, the Chinese hamster demonstrated a higher sensitivity to infection with the toxinogenic or encapsulated strains. In conclusion, our findings imply that TLR2 has an important role in the attempt of the innate immunity to control B. anthracis infection, although TNF-alpha secretion was found to be mediated by both TLR2-dependent and TLR2-independent pathways.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The most aggressive form of anthrax results from inhalation of airborne spores of Bacillus anthracis and usually progresses unnoticed in the early stages because of unspecific symptoms. The only reliable marker of anthrax is development of bacteremia, which increases with disease progress. Rapid diagnosis of anthrax is imperative for efficient treatment and cure. Herein we demonstrate that the presence and level of a bacterial antigen, the protective antigen (PA), a component of B. anthracis toxins, in host sera can serve as a reliable marker of infection. This was tested in two animal models of inhalation anthrax, rabbits and guinea pigs infected by intranasal instillation of Vollum spores. In both models, we demonstrated qualitative and quantitative correlations between levels of bacteremia and PA concentrations in the sera of sick animals. The average time to death in infected animals was about 16 h after the appearance of bacteremia, leaving a small therapeutic window. As the time required for immunodetection of PA can be very short, the use of this marker will be beneficial for faster diagnosis and treatment of inhalation anthrax.
Infection and Immunity 11/2006; 74(10):5871-6. DOI:10.1128/IAI.00792-06 · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Correlates between immunological parameters and protection against Bacillus anthracis infection in animals vaccinated with protective antigen (PA)-based vaccines could provide surrogate markers to evaluate the putative protective efficiency of immunization in humans. In previous studies we demonstrated that neutralizing antibody levels serve as correlates for protection in guinea pigs (S. Reuveny et al., Infect. Immun. 69:2888-2893, 2001; H. Marcus et al., Infect. Immun. 72:3471-3477, 2004). In this study we evaluated similar correlates for protection by active and passive immunization of New Zealand White rabbits. Full immunization and partial immunization were achieved by single and multiple injections of standard and diluted doses of a PA-based vaccine. Passive immunization was carried out by injection of immune sera from rabbits vaccinated with PA-based vaccine prior to challenge with B. anthracis spores. Immunized rabbits were challenged by intranasal spore instillation with one of two virulent strains (strains Vollum and ATCC 6605). The immune competence was estimated by measuring the level of total anti-PA antibodies, the neutralizing antibody titers, and the conferred protective immunity. The results indicate that total anti-PA antibody titers greater than 1 x 10(5) conferred protection, whereas lower titers (between 10(4) and 10(5)) provided partial protection but failed to predict protection. Neutralizing antibody titers between 500 and 800 provided partial protection, while titers higher than 1,000 conferred protection. In conclusion, this study emphasizes that regardless of the immunization regimen or the time of challenge, neutralizing antibody titers are better predictors of protection than total anti-PA titers.
Infection and Immunity 02/2006; 74(1):394-8. DOI:10.1128/IAI.74.1.394-398.2006 · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Classification and differentiation of Bacillus anthracis isolates by genetic markers play an important role in anthrax research. We used a PCR based method--Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA (RAPD)--to identify genetic markers in B. anthracis strains. Twenty-five differential genetic markers were identified which divided the strains into five different groups. Three selected RAPD-markers were cloned and sequenced. The five RAPD-derived genotypes could be defined by integration of these three markers. This system offers a simple non-expensive method to classify B. anthracis strains in laboratories involved in the research of this bacterium.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The efficiency of postexposure prophylaxis against Bacillus anthracis infection was tested in guinea pigs infected intranasally with either Vollum or strain ATCC 6605 spores (75 times the 50% lethal dose [LD(50)] and 87 times LD(50,) respectively). Starting 24 h postinfection, animals were treated three times per day for 14 days with ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, erythromycin, cefazolin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX). Administration of cefazolin and TMP-SMX failed to protect the animals, while ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, and erythromycin prevented death. Upon cessation of treatment all erythromycin-treated animals died; of the tetracycline-treated animals, two of eight infected with Vollum and one of nine infected with ATCC 6605 survived; and of the ciprofloxacin group injected with either 10 or 20 mg/kg of body weight, five of nine and five of five animals, respectively, survived. To test the added value of extending the treatment period, Vollum-infected (46 times the LD(50)) animals were treated for 30 days with ciprofloxacin or tetracycline, resulting in protection of eight of nine and nine of nine animals, respectively. Once treatment was discontinued, only four of eight and five of nine animals, respectively, survived. Following rechallenge (intramuscularly) of the survivors with 30 times the LD(50) of Vollum spores, all ciprofloxacin-treated animals were protected while none of the tetracycline-treated animals survived. In an attempt to confer protective immunity lasting beyond the termination of antibiotic administration, Vollum-infected animals were immunized with a protective antigen (PA)-based vaccine concurrently with treatment with either ciprofloxacin or tetracycline. The combined treatment protected eight of eight and nine of nine animals. Following cessation of antibiotic administration seven of eight and eight of eight animals survived, of which six of seven and eight of eight resisted rechallenge. These results indicate that a combined treatment of antibiotics together with a PA-based vaccine could provide long-term protection to prevent reoccurrence of anthrax disease.
Infection and Immunity 12/2002; 70(11):6231-41. DOI:10.1128/IAI.70.11.6231-6241.2002 · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sindbis virus (SV) is an alpha virus used as a model for studying the role of apoptosis in virus infection. In this study, we examined the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in the apoptosis induced by SVNI, a virulent strain of SV. Infection of C6 cells with SVNI induced a selective translocation of PKCdelta to the endoplasmic reticulum and its tyrosine phosphorylation. The specific PKCdelta inhibitor rottlerin and a PKCdelta kinase-dead mutant increased the apoptosis induced by SVNI. To examine the role of the tyrosine phosphorylation of PKCdelta in the apoptosis induced by SVNI we used a PKCdelta mutant in which five tyrosine residues were mutated to phenylalanine (PKCdelta5). PKCdelta5-overexpressing cells exhibited increased apoptosis in response to SVNI as compared with control cells and to cells overexpressing PKCdelta. SVNI also increased the cleavage of caspase 3 in cells overexpressing PKCdelta5 but did not induce cleavage of PKCdelta or PKCdelta5. Using single tyrosine mutants, we identified tyrosines 52, 64, and 155 as the phosphorylation sites associated with the apoptosis induced by SVNI. We conclude that PKCdelta exerts an inhibitory effect on the apoptosis induced by SV and that phosphorylation of PKCdelta on specific tyrosines is required for this function.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There are contradictory reports regarding the effects of inhalation anesthetics on the immune system. Measurable immune responses have been studied in vitro, but little is known about the in vivo effects in the intact organism. We used an attenuated, non-neuroinvasive, nonlethal strain of the encephalitic West Nile virus, termed WN-25, which can become lethal in combination with environmental stressors, to study possible modulatory immune effects of inhalation anesthetics in mice. Both single short-term exposure and repeated exposure to halothane and nitrous oxide were studied. Exposure to 30% CO2 served as a positive control. Mortality, brain invasion, spleen weight, and antiviral antibodies served as the experimental endpoints. Halothane and nitrous oxide led to viral brain invasion, increased mortality, and suppressed immune response in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Repeated exposures had a cumulative effect. Assessment of the stability of the viral attenuation did not demonstrate any alteration in the character of the virus, suggesting an increased access to the brain by inhalation anesthetics that led to the fatal encephalitis. These findings may be of special concern to populations at risk, such as operating room staff and patients undergoing general anesthesia in endemic areas of encephalitic virus species, in which subclinical infection may develop into an overt disease.
Journal of Medical Virology 04/2002; 66(4):576-80. DOI:10.1002/jmv.2184 · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The efficacy of passive immunization as a postexposure prophylactic measure for treatment of guinea pigs intranasally infected with Bacillus anthracis spores was evaluated. Antisera directed either against the lethal toxin components (PA or LF) or against a toxinogenic strain (Sterne) were used for this evaluation. All antisera exhibited high enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay titers against the corresponding antigens, high titers of neutralization of cytotoxicity activity in an in vitro mouse macrophages cell line (J774A.1), as well as in vivo neutralization of toxicity when administered either directly to Fisher rats prior to challenge with the lethal toxin or after incubation with the lethal toxin. In these tests, anti-LF antiserum exhibited the highest neutralization efficiency, followed by anti-Sterne and anti-PA. The time dependence and antibody dose necessary for conferring postexposure protection by the various antibodies of guinea pigs infected with 25 50% lethal doses of Vollum spores was examined. Rabbit anti-PA serum was found to be the most effective. Intraperitoneal injections of anti-PA serum given 24 h postinfection protected 90% of the infected animals, whereas anti-Sterne and anti-LF were less effective. These results further emphasizes the importance of anti-PA antibodies in conferring protection against B. anthracis infection and demonstrated the ability of such antibodies to be effectively applied as an efficient postexposure treatment against anthrax disease.
Infection and Immunity 03/2002; 70(2):544-60. DOI:10.1128/IAI.70.2.544-550.2002 · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sindbis virus (SV) is an alphavirus used as a model for studying the pathogenesis of viral encephalitis. In this study we examined the effects and the mechanisms involved in the apoptosis induced by SV in PC-12 cells, and the role of a vFLIP in this process. Infection of PC-12 cells with a neurovirulent strain of SV, SVNI, induced cell apoptosis. Overexpression of vFLIP encoded by the HHV-8 or treatment with a caspase-8 inhibitor inhibited cell apoptosis. SVNI induced an increase in the expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), and pre-treatment of the cells with an anti-TNF-alpha blocking antibody or with soluble TNF-alpha receptor abrogated the apoptotic effect of SVNI. Moreover, TNF-alpha R1 knockout mice were more resistant to the cytopathic effects of the virus as compared to control animals. Our results indicate that the apoptosis induced by SVNI is mediated by activation of caspase-8, and that TNF-alpha plays an important role in the apoptotic response.
Cell Death and Differentiation 01/2002; 8(12):1224-31. DOI:10.1038/sj.cdd.4400926 · 8.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Analysis by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS) was applied for the characterization of Bacillus anthracis spore biomarkers. B. anthracis spores were extracted under a simple procedure, followed by linear mode analysis, using sinapinic acid as the matrix. Several markers with a mass range of 4-7 kDa were detected in three B. anthracis strains: Vollum, Sterne and V770-NP1-R. Similar spectra were also obtained for spore extracts of two members of the B. cereus group: B. thuringiensis and B. cereus, but not for B. mycoides, B. subtilis or B. licheniformis, suggesting that these markers are specific to closely related members of the B. cereus group. When alpha-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid was used as the matrix, at least four additional new markers within a mass range of 2-4 kDa could be detected in all B. anthracis spore extracts. These markers, corresponding to a molecular weight of 2528.3, 2792.4, 3077.4, and 3590.7 Da, have not been observed in extracts of the three closely related Bacillus species - B. cereus, B. thuringiensis and B. mycoides. These unique B. anthracis biomarkers, which were isotopically resolved and reproducibly detected in the highly accurate MALDI-TOFMS reflectron mode, may be useful as a basis for rapid and specific identification of B. anthracis strains.
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 11/2001; 15(22):2110-6. DOI:10.1002/rcm.491 · 2.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vaccination by anthrax protective antigen (PA)-based vaccines requires multiple immunization, underlying the need to develop more efficacious vaccines or alternative vaccination regimens. In spite of the vast use of PA-based vaccines, the definition of a marker for protective immunity is still lacking. Here we describe studies designed to help define such markers. To this end we have immunized guinea pigs by different methods and monitored the immune response and the corresponding extent of protection against a lethal challenge with anthrax spores. Active immunization was performed by a single injection using one of two methods: (i) vaccination with decreasing amounts of PA and (ii) vaccination with constant amounts of PA that had been thermally inactivated for increasing periods. In both studies a direct correlation between survival and neutralizing-antibody titer was found (r(2) = 0.92 and 0.95, respectively). Most significantly, in the two protocols a similar neutralizing-antibody titer range provided 50% protection. Furthermore, in a complementary study involving passive transfer of PA hyperimmune sera to naive animals, a similar correlation between neutralizing-antibody titers and protection was found. In all three immunization studies, neutralization titers of at least 300 were sufficient to confer protection against a dose of 40 50% lethal doses (LD(50)) of virulent anthrax spores of the Vollum strain. Such consistency in the correlation of protective immunity with anti-PA antibody titers was not observed for antibody titers determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Taken together, these results clearly demonstrate that neutralizing antibodies to PA constitute a major component of the protective immunity against anthrax and suggest that this parameter could be used as a surrogate marker for protection.
Infection and Immunity 06/2001; 69(5):2888-93. DOI:10.1128/IAI.69.5.2888-2893.2001 · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exposure to the nerve agent soman, an irreversible cholinesterase (ChE) inhibitor, results in changes in blood-brain barrier permeability attributed to its seizure-induced activity. However, smaller BBB changes may be independent of convulsions. Such minor injury may escape detection. A nonneuroinvasive neurovirulent Sindbis virus strain (SVN) was used as a marker for BBB permeability. Peripheral inoculation of mice with 2 x 10(3) plaque forming units (PFU) caused up to 10(5) PFU/ml viremia after 24 hours with no signs of central nervous system (CNS) infection and with no virus detected in brain tissue. Intra-cerebral injection of as low as 1-5 PFU of the same virus caused CNS infection, exhibited 5-7 days later as hind limb paralysis and death. Soman (0.1-0.7 of the LD50) was administered at peak viremia (1 day following peripheral inoculation). Sublethal soman exposure at as low as 0.1 LD50 resulted in CNS infection 6-8 days following inoculation in 30-40% of the mice. High virus titer were recorded in brain tissue of sick mice while no virus was detected in healthy mice subjected to the same treatment. No changes in the level of viremia or changes in viral traits were observed in the infected mice. The reversible anticholinesterases physostigmine (0.2 mg/kg, s.c.) and pyridostigmine (0.4 mg/kg, i.m.) injected at a dose equal to 0.1 LD50, induced similar results. Thus, both central and peripheral anticholinesterases (anti-ChEs) induce changes in BBB permeability sufficient to allow, at least in some of the mice, the invasion of this otherwise noninvasive but highly neurovirulent virus. This BBB change is probably due to the presence of cholinesterases in the capillary wall. SVN brain invasion served here as a highly sensitive and reliable marker for BBB integrity.
Life Sciences 02/2001; 68(9):985-90. DOI:10.1016/S0024-3205(00)01000-6 · 2.30 Impact Factor