Shigella flexneri (S. flexneri) 6 has emerged as an important cause of shigellosis. Our efficacy study of Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri 2a O-specific polysaccharide (O-SP) conjugates in 1–4 year-olds had too few S. flexneri 2a cases for efficacy evaluation but surprisingly showed protection of 3–4 year-olds, S. flexneri 2a-recipients, from S. flexneri 6 infection. To investigate this cross-protection antibodies to both Shigella types were investigated in all sera remaining from previous studies. Twenty to 30% of 3–44 year-old humans injected with S. flexneri 2a conjugate responded with ≥4-fold increases of IgG anti type 6, p < 0.00001. The specificity of these antibodies was shown by inhibition studies. S. flexneri 6 infection of 2 children induced besides S. flexneri 6, also S. flexneri 2a antibodies, at levels of S. flexneri 2a vaccinees. S. flexneri 2a antibodies induced by S. flexneri 6 conjugates could not be studied since no such conjugate was assessed in humans and mice responded almost exclusively to the O-SP of the injected conjugate, with no cross-reactive antibodies. Our results indicate induction of cross-reactive protective antibodies. The O-acetylated disaccharide shared by S. flexneri 6 and 2a O-SPs, is the likely basis for their cross-reactivity. S. flexneri 6 O-SP conjugates, alone and in combination with S. flexneri 2a, merit further investigation for broad S. flexneri protection.
- Shigella flexneri