Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains are a leading cause of children’s and travel-ers’ diarrhea. Developing effective vaccines against this heterologous group has proven difficult due to the varied nature of toxins and adhesins that determine their pathology. A multivalent candidate vaccine was developed using a multi-epitope fusion antigen (MEFA) vaccinology platform and shown to effectively elicit broad protective antibody responses in mice and pigs. However, direct protection against ETEC colonization of the small intestine was not measured in these systems. Colonization of ETEC strains is known to be a determining factor in disease outcomes and is adhesin-dependent. In this study, we developed a non-surgical rabbit colonization model to study immune protection against ETEC colonization in rabbits. We tested the ability for the MEFA-based vaccine adhesin antigen, in combination with dmLT adjuvant, to induce broad immune responses and to protect from ETEC colonization of the rabbit small intestine. Our results indicate that the candidate vaccine MEFA antigen elicits antibodies in rabbits that react to seven adhesins included in its con-struction and protects against colonization of a challenge strain that consistently colonized naïve rabbits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases