Functional anti-N. meningitidis serogroup A (MenA) activity in human serum is detected by serum bactericidal assay (SBA), using either rabbit (rSBA) or human (hSBA) complement, with F8238 as the recommended MenA SBA target strain. However, the F8238 strain may not be optimal for this purpose because, as we show here, it expresses the L11 immunotype, whereas most MenA invasive strains express the L(3,7)9 or L10 immunotype. Moreover, SBA results may be strain dependent, because immunotypes differ in their sensitivity to complement, emphasizing the need to choose the most appropriate strain. Sera from random subsets of infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents in clinical trials of MenA conjugate vaccines were tested by rSBA using strains 3125 (L10) and F8238 (L11). In unvaccinated subjects from all age groups, the percentages of seropositive samples (rSBA-MenA titer, ≥1:8) was lower using strain 3125 than using strain F8238. However, in toddlers and adolescents immunized with a conjugate MenA vaccine, the percentages of seropositive samples generally were similar using either strain in the rSBA. In two studies, sera also were tested with hSBA. Using hSBA, the differences in the percentages of seroprotective samples (hSBA-MenA titer, ≥1:4) between strains 3125 and F8238 was less apparent, and in contrast with rSBA, the percentage of seroprotective samples from unvaccinated subjects was slightly higher using strain 3125 than using strain F8238. In adults vaccinated with plain MenA polysaccharide, the percentage of seroprotective samples was higher using strain 3125 than with strain F8238, and the vaccine response rates using strain 3125 were better aligned with the demonstrated efficacy of MenA vaccination. In conclusion, SBA results obtained using the MenA L10 3125 strain better reflected vaccine-induced immunity
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