We tested the ability of pepsin-extracted, highly purified M protein to induce type-specific immunity in experimental animals and humans. M protein was prepared from limited peptic digests of whole group A type 24 streptococci and was purified to chemical homogeneity as judged by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, quantitative amino acid analysis, and Edman degradation. For vaccination, the lyophilized M24 protein preparation (pep M24) was precipitated in aluminum hydroxide. When injected into laboratory animals, alum-precipitated pep M24 produced type-specific protective antibodies and was free of non-type-specific immunoreactivity. In man, skin tests with 1-microgram doses of pep M24 were negative in all 37 adults tested. 12 adult human volunteers received two-four subcutaneous injections of 100-200 micrograms of alum-precipitated pep M24 at intervals of at least 2 wk. The immune response to pep M24 was measured by a variety of assays designed to detect (a) type-specific humoral antibodies (opsonophagocytic, long chain, and mouse protection tests); (b) total humoral antibodies (complement fixation and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay); (c) cellular immunity (skin tests); and (d) heart cross-reactive antibodies (immunofluorescence). Type-specific opsonic antibodies developed in 10 of the 12 vaccinees, and positive delayed-type skin tests developed in 11. Immune sera from two of the vaccinees were effective in mouse-protection tests against challenge with M24 but not M6 streptococci. None of the volunteers developed heart-reactive antibodies or antibodies to non-type-specific M protein antigens. Alum-precipitated pep M24 was well-tolerated in man, and no serious local or systemic reactions were observed. Thus, pep M24 induces type-specific, protective antibodies in doses that are well-tolerated in man.

This content is only available as a PDF.