Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that is caused by the gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The low efficacy of currently available killed-whole-cell vaccines and the reactinogenicity coupled with potential reversion of live vaccines have thus far precluded widespread vaccination for the control of cholera. Recent studies on the molecular nature of the virulence components that contribute to V. cholerae pathogenesis have provided insights into possible approaches for the development of a defined subunit cholera vaccine. Genetic analysis has demonstrated that the toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP) is the major factor that contributes to colonization of the human intestine by V. cholerae. In addition, polyclonal and several monoclonal antibodies directed against TCP have been shown to provide passive immunity to disease in the infant mouse cholera model. In the present study, synthetic peptides corresponding to portions of the C-terminal disulfide region of TcpA pilin were formulated with polymer adjuvants currently in clinical trials and used to actively immunize adult female CD-1 mice. The experimental vaccine formulations elicited high levels of antigen-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG), including a broad spectrum of subclasses (IgG1, IgG2a, IgG2b, and IgG3), and lower levels of IgA. Infant mice born to the immunized mothers showed 100% protection against a 50% lethal dose (1 LD50) challenge and 50% protection against a 10-LD50 challenge with virulent strain O395. These results indicate that specific regions of TcpA, including those delineated by the peptides used in this study, have the potential to be incorporated into an effective defined subunit vaccine for cholera
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