Immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a Streptococcus suis vaccine composed of six conserved immunogens
A vaccine protecting against different Streptococcus suis serotypes is highly needed in porcine practice to improve animal welfare and reduce the use of antibiotics. We hypothesized that immunogens prominently recognized by convalescence sera but significantly less so by sera of susceptible piglets are putative protective antigens. Accordingly, we investigated immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a multicomponent vaccine including six main conserved immunogens, namely SSU0934, SSU1869, SSU0757, SSU1950, SSU1664 and SSU0187. Flow cytometry confirmed surface expression of all six immunogens in S. suis serotypes 2, 9 and 14. Although prime-booster vaccination after weaning resulted in significantly higher specific IgG levels against all six immunogens compared to the placebo-treated group, no significant differences between bacterial survival in blood from either vaccinated or control animals were recorded for serotype 2, 9 and 14 strains. Furthermore, vaccinated piglets were not protected against morbidity elicited through intranasal challenge with S. suis serotype 14. As ~50% of animals in both groups did not develop disease, we investigated putative other correlates of protection. Induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in blood granulocytes was not associated with vaccination but correlated with protection as all piglets with >5% ROS survived the challenge. Based on these findings we discuss that the main immunogens of S. suis might actually not be a priori good candidates for protective antigens. On the contrary, expression of immunogens that evoke antibodies that do not mediate killing of this pathogen might constitute an evolutionary advantage conserved in many different S. suis strains.