Document Type


Publication Date

June 2007


This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in Infection and Immunity 75(6):3043-3054, June 2007, available at Copyright by The American Society for Microbiology.


Most reports dealing with vaccines against botulinum toxin have focused on the injection route of administration. This is unfortunate, because a mucosal vaccine is likely to be more efficacious for patients and pose fewer risks to health care workers and to the environment. Therefore, efforts were made to generate a mucosal vaccine that provides protection against the botulinum serotypes that typically cause human illness (serotypes A, B, and E). This work demonstrated that carboxy-terminal peptides derived from each of the three serotypes were able to bind to and penetrate human epithelial barriers in vitro, and there was no cross inhibition of membrane binding and transcytosis. The three polypeptides were then tested in vivo as a trivalent vaccine that could be administered to mice by the intranasal route. The results indicated that the mucosal vaccine evoked high secretory titers of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as high circulating titers of IgG and IgA, and it also evoked a high level of resistance to challenge with toxin. The immunoglobulin responses and the levels of resistance to challenge were increased by coadministration of adjuvants, such as chitosan and vitamin E. At least three mechanisms were identified to account for the antibody-induced resistance: (i) blockade of toxin absorption across epithelial cells, (ii) enhanced clearance of toxin from the circulation, and (iii) blockade of toxin action at the neuromuscular junction. These results are a compelling demonstration that a mucosal vaccine against multiple serotypes of botulinum toxin has been identified.