Protective immunity to Brucella ovis in BALB/c mice following recovery from primary infection or immunization with subcellular vaccines

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Experiments were performed with BALB/c mice to elucidate the roles of humoral and cell-mediated immune responses in the acquisition of protective immunity to Brucella ovis and to compare infection immunity with immunity developed through vaccination with a hot saline extract (HS) of B. ovis. Mice convalescing from a primary infection with B. ovis displayed a high level of resistance to reinfection, as evidenced by splenic bacterial counts decreased over 10,000-fold from control groups at 2 weeks after challenge. Passive transfer assays revealed that protection was mediated by both T lymphocytes and antibodies but that antibodies had a substantially greater role on the basis of log units of protection that were transferred. Antibodies specific for HS proteins in sera from convalescent mice were predominantly of the immunoglobulin G 2a and 3 isotypes. Vaccination with HS conferred good protection against B. ovis, but protection was greatly enhanced by the incorporation of QS-21 or other adjuvants. Protection provided by the HS vaccine resulted largely from immune responses to its protein moieties. A critical evaluation of the protective efficacy of the rough lipopolysaccharide component of HS was precluded by its poor immunogenicity in BALB/c mice. HS-QS-21 afforded protection against challenge infection with B. ovis as good as that which developed after a primary infection and as good as or better than that provided by attenuated Brucella melitensis vaccine strain Rev 1. Passive transfer experiments confirmed that the magnitudes of both humoral and cell-mediated forms of protective immunity were equivalent in mice vaccinated with HS-QS-21 and those recovering from a primary infection. Protective immunity to B. ovis in mice therefore resembled that to Brucella abortus, except that the relative roles of humoral and cell-mediated immunity, rather than being equivalent, were shifted toward a greater role for antibodies.

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Infection and Immunity

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