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Natural immunity against Neisseria meningitidis is thought to develop following nasopharyngeal colonization with this bacterium or other microbes expressing cross-reactive antigens. Neisseria lactamica is a commensal of the upper respiratory tract which is often carried by infants and young children; epidemiological evidence indicates that colonization with this bacterium can elicit serum bactericidal activity (SBA) against Neisseria meningitidis, the most validated correlate of protective immunity. Here we demonstrate experimentally that immunization of mice with live N. lactamica protects animals against lethal meningococcal challenge and that some, but not all, strains of N. lactamica elicit detectable SBA in immunized animals regardless of the serogroup of N. meningitidis. While it is unlikely that immunization with live N. lactamica will be implemented as a vaccine against meningococcal disease, understanding the basis for the induction of cross-protective immunity and SBA should be valuable in the design of subunit vaccines for the prevention of this important human infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Infect Immun

Publication Date





6348 - 6355


Animals, Antibodies, Bacterial, Disease Models, Animal, Female, HL-60 Cells, Humans, Meningococcal Infections, Meningococcal Vaccines, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Neisseria lactamica, Neisseria meningitidis, Serum Bactericidal Test, Vaccines, Attenuated