A High-throughput Shigella-specific Bactericidal Assay

Academic Article


  • Serum bactericidal assays (SBAs) measure the functional activity of antibodies and have been used for many decades. SBAs directly measure antibody killing activity by assessing the ability of antibodies in serum to bind to bacteria and activate complement. This complement activation results in the lysis and killing of the target bacteria. These assays are valuable because they go beyond quantifying antibody production to elucidate the biological functions that these antibodies have, allowing researchers to study the role that antibodies may play in preventing infection. SBAs have been used to study immune responses for many human pathogens, but there is no widely accepted methodology for Shigella at present. Historically, SBAs have been very labor-intensive, requiring many time-consuming steps to accurately quantify surviving bacteria. This protocol describes a simple, robust, and high-throughput assay that measures functional antibodies specific for Shigella in serum in vitro. The method described here offers many advantages over traditional SBAs, including the use of frozen bacterial stocks, 96 well assay plates, a micro-culture system, and automated colony-counting. All of these modifications make this assay less labor-intensive and more high-throughput. This protocol is simpler and faster to perform than traditional SBAs while still using simple technologies and readily available reagents. The protocol has been successfully applied in multiple independent laboratories and the assay is robust and reproducible. The assay can be used to assess immune responses in pre-clinical as well as clinical studies. Quantifying shigellacidal antibody titers both before and after antigen exposure (either by immunization or infection) allows for a broader understanding of how functional antibody responses are generated and their contribution to protective immunity. The development of this standardized, well-characterized assay may greatly facilitate Shigella vaccine design.
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    Author List

  • Weerts HP; Yu J; Kaminski RW; Nahm MH
  • Issue

  • 144