Protective salivary immunoglobulin A responses against Streptococcus mutans infection after intranasal immunization with S. mutans antigen I/II coupled to the B subunit of cholera toxin

Academic Article


  • The B subunit of cholera toxin (CTB) has been shown to augment mucosal responses to microbial virulence antigens, including those of Streptococcus mutans, which is the principal etiologic agent of dental caries. In the present study, the surface fibrillar protein antigen of S. mutans, antigen I/II (Ag I/II), was chemically coupled to CTB (Ag I/II-CTB), and the conjugate was examined for its effectiveness in inducing salivary immune responses protective against S. mutans infection. Weanling Fischer rats were given Ag I/II-CTB (50 μg) by the intranasal route and then orally infected with a virulent strain of S. mutans. Gnotobiotic or conventional rats were given two or three additional immunizations, respectively, at about 2-week intervals. One week after each immunization, individual serum, saliva, and fecal samples were collected and stored frozen until assayed for antibody activity to Ag I/II and cholera toxin (CT) by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The rats were sacrificed 1 week after the last immunization, when mandibles were also collected from individual rats for assessment of S. mutans levels in plaque and caries activity. Rats immunized only or both immunized and infected showed a salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA) anti-Ag I/II response which reached significantly (P < 0.05) higher levels than those seen in nonimmunized, infected controls. A salivary IgA anti-Ag I/II response was also seen in rats infected only with S. mutans. Essentially no salivary antibody activity to CT was detected. Some serum anti-Ag I/II and anti-CT responses were seen in immunized animals. Serum IgG anti-Ag I/II responses were seen in immunized, infected rats and also in infected-only rats, suggesting that the responses were a result of infection with S. mutans. The immunized and infected rats had significantly (P < 0.05) lower levels of S. mutans in plaque and lower caries activity than nonimmunized, infected rats. These results indicated that intranasal immunization of rats with Ag I/II- CTB induced a protective salivary immune response which was associated with a reduction in S. mutans colonization and S. mutans-induced dental caries.
  • Published In

    Author List

  • Katz J; Harmon CC; Buckner GP; Richardson GJ; Russell MW; Michalek SM
  • Start Page

  • 1964
  • End Page

  • 1971
  • Volume

  • 61
  • Issue

  • 5