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Background: In cholera epidemics, the spread of disease can easily outpace vaccine control measures. The advent of technologies enabling the expression of recombinant proteins, including antibodies, in the milk of transgenic animals raises the prospect of developing a self-administered and cost-effective monoclonal antibody (MAb)-based prophylactic to reduce the incidence of Vibrio cholerae infection.
Methods: We generated a transgenic mouse line in which the heavy and light chain variable regions (Fv) specific for a conserved epitope in the core/lipid A of V. cholerae O1 lipopolysaccharide were expressed as a full-length human dimeric IgA1 (ZAC-3) and secreted into the milk of lactating dams. Milk containing ZAC-3 IgA1 was assessed for the ability to passively protect against experimental cholera infection in a newborn mouse model and to impact bacterial swimming behavior.
Results: Newborn mice that were passively administered ZAC-3 IgA1 containing milk, or that suckled on dams expressing ZAC-3 IgA1, were immune to experimental cholera infection, as measured by a reduction of V. cholerae O1 colony forming units recovered from intestinal lysates 12 hours after oral challenge. In vitro analysis revealed that ZAC-3 hIgA1-containing milk arrested V. cholerae motility in soft agar and liquid media and was effective at promoting bacterial agglutination, possibly accounting for the observed reduction in bacterial colonization in vivo.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that consumption of milk-derived antibodies may serve as a strategy to passively protect against cholera and possibly other enteric pathogens.
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