Immunization with FimA protects against Streptococcus parasanguis endocarditis in rats

Helen B. Viscount, Cindy L. Munro, Dana Burnette-Curley, Darrell L. Peterson, Francis L. Macrina

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72 Scopus citations


FimA, a surface-associated protein of Streptococcus parasanguis, is associated with initial colonization of damaged heart tissue in an endocarditis model (D. Burnette-Curley, V. Wells, H. Viscount, C. Munro, J. Fenno, P. Fives-Taylor, and F. Macrina, Infect. Immun. 63:4669-4674, 1995). We have evaluated the efficacy of recombinant FimA as a vaccine in the rat model of endocarditis and investigated in vitro the mechanism for the protective role of immunization. FimA-immunized and nonimmunized control animals were catheterized to induce heart valve damage and infected intravenously with 107 CFU of wild-type S. parasanguis FW213 bacteria. The presence of bacteria associated with platelet-fibrin vegetations 24 h postchallenge was evaluated. Immunized rats were significantly less susceptible to endocarditis (2 cases among 34 animals) than the control group (21 cases among 33 animals) (P < 0.001). Incubation of S. parasanguis FW213 with rabbit anti-FimA immune serum decreased the mean percent adherence (0.34% of added cells) to platelet-fibrin matrix in vitro compared with that of preimmune normal serum (5.04% of added cells; P < 0.001). Adsorption of immune serum with FimA-positive S. parasanguis FW213 yielded antiserum that failed to block adherence to the platelet-fibrin matrix. We assessed the vaccine potential of FimA as a common immunogen able to provide cross- protection in streptococcal endocarditis by determining the occurrence and expression of fimA in the viridans group streptococci and enterococci. We detected the presence of fimA homologs by Southern hybridization and PCR amplification analyses and determined by immunoblotting the expression of FimA-like proteins among a variety of streptococci and enterococci that frequently cause endocarditis. Eighty-one percent (26 of 32) of streptococcal and enterococcal strains isolated from bacteremic patients expressed proteins that comigrated with FimA and were reactive with polyclonal anti-FimA serum. Streptococcal DNA from strains that were positive by Western blot (immunoblot) analysis hybridized to the full-length fimA probe. Our studies suggest that FimA immunization results in antibody-mediated inhibition of bacterial adherence, a critical early event in the pathogenesis of endocarditis. Our data demonstrate that a majority of streptococcal strains associated with endocarditis have genes that encode FimA-like proteins. Taken together, these results suggest that FimA is a promising candidate for an endocarditis vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)994-1002
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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