Clostridium botulinum type B strain produces two forms of progenitor toxin, 16S and 12S. The 12S toxin is formed by association of a neurotoxin (NTX) and a non-toxic non-haemagglutinin (NTNH), and the 16S toxin is formed by conjugation of the 12S toxin with a haemagglutinin (HA). HA consists of four subcomponents designated HA1, HA2, HA3a and HA3b. When mice were immunized with formalin-detoxified NTX, 12S or 16S, a significantly greater amount of anti-NTX antibody (Ab) was produced in the mice injected with 16S than in NTX- or 12S-injected mice. Immunization with NTX mixed with HA1 and/or HA3b also increased the anti-NTX Ab production, whereas NTX mixed with HA2 did not, indicating that HA1 and HA3b have adjuvant activity. This was further confirmed by immunizing mice with human albumin (Alb) alone or Alb mixed with either HA1 or HA3b. When mouse-spleen cells were stimulated with NTX, 16S or different HA subcomponents, 16S, HA1, HA3b and the mixture of HA1 and HA3 significantly increased interleukin 6 (IL6) production compared with NTX alone. Transcription of IL6 mRNA was low after stimulation with NTX alone, but increased to 16S-stimulation levels when NTX was mixed with HA1 or HA3b. In flow cytometry using labelled Abs against CD3 and CD19, the percentage of CD19 cells was higher following stimulation with 16S or NTX mixed with HA1 or HA3b compared with stimulation with NTX. The percentage of CD3 cells remained unchanged. These results suggest strongly that HA1 and HA3b demonstrate adjuvant activity via increasing IL6 production.
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