Immune response characterization in a human challenge study with a Shigella flexneri 2a bioconjugate vaccine

Kristen A. Clarkson, Kawsar R. Talaat, Cristina Alaimo, Patricia Martin, A. Louis Bourgeois, Anita Dreyer, Chad K. Porter, Subhra Chakraborty, Jessica Brubaker, Daniel Elwood, Rahel Frölich, Barbara DeNearing, Hailey P. Weerts, Brittany Feijoo, Jane Halpern, David Sack, Mark S. Riddle, Veronica Gambillara Fonck, Robert W. Kaminski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Diarrheal diseases are a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality affecting all ages, but especially children under the age of five in resource-limited settings. Shigella is a leading contributor to diarrheal diseases caused by bacterial pathogens and is considered a significant antimicrobial resistance threat. While improvements in hygiene, and access to clean water help as control measures, vaccination remains one of the most viable options for significantly reducing morbidity and mortality. Methods: Flexyn2a is a bioconjugate vaccine manufactured using novel conjugation methodologies enzymatically linking the O-polysaccharide of S. flexneri 2a to exotoxin A of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The protective capacity of Flexyn2a was assessed in a controlled human infection model after two intramuscular immunizations. Immune responses pre- and post-immunization and/or infection were investigated and are described here. Findings: Flexyn2a induced lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-specific serum IgG responses post-immunization which were associated with protection against shigellosis. Additionally, several other immune parameters, including memory B cell responses, bactericidal antibodies and serum IgA, were also elevated in vaccinees protected against shigellosis. Immunization with Flexyn2a also induced gut-homing, LPS-specific IgG and IgA secreting B cells, indicating the vaccine induced immune effectors functioning at the site of intestinal infection. Interpretation: Collectively, the results of these immunological investigations provide insights into protective immune mechanisms post-immunization with Flexyn2a which can be used to further guide vaccine development and may have applicability to the larger Shigella vaccine field. Funding: Funding for this study was provided through a Wellcome Trust grant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103308
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioconjugate vaccine
  • Gut-homing responses
  • Human challenge
  • Immunogenicity
  • Parenteral immunization
  • Shigella


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