Oral immunization of dogs with purified cholera toxin, crude cholera toxin, or B subunit: Evidence for synergistic protection by antitoxic and antibacterial mechanisms

N. F. Pierce, W. C. Cray, J. B. Sacci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The immunogenicity and safety of purified cholera toxin (CT), its B subunit, a crude culture filtrate of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae (CrT) were compared in dogs immunized orally and challenged with virulent V. cholerae. CT and CrT caused marked protection in two- or three-dose regimens. Protection due to CT occurred only with doses that caused transient, sometimes severe, diarrhea in most dogs; this protection was proportional to the peak antitoxin response in jejunal mucosa and lasted at least 15 weeks. In contrast, minimum protective doses of CrT contained much less cholera toxin, caused very mild diarrhea in only 21% of the dogs, and evoked protection that was greater than predicted from the modest jejunal antitoxin response. B subunit caused smaller jejunal antitoxin responses than did similar doses of CT and was poorly protective, the 50% protective dose being >40-fold greater than that of CT. Two observations indicated that protection due to CrT involved synergy between antibacterial and antitoxic immune responses. First, the 50% protective dose of CrT was 24-fold and >36-fold smaller than the 50% protective doses of its CT and non-CT antigenic components, respectively, when tested separately. Second, protection was greater in CrT-immunized dogs than in CT-immunized dogs for a given mucosal antitoxin response. Low doses of CrT evoked serotype-specific protection, indicating that the serotype-specific O somatic antigen contributed significantly to antibacterial protection. These results suggest that a simple, effective, nonliving oral vaccine for cholera based on combined antibacterial and antitoxic immunity can probably be achieved. However, further studies are needed to determine how a protective antitoxic response can be evoked without causing diarrhea during immunization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-694
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1982


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

Cite this