Immune response against M protein-conserved region peptides from prevalent group A Streptococcus in a North Indian population.
[acute rheumatic fever]
Group A streptococci (GAS) cause infections with a high prevalence in most developing countries. A GAS vaccine under trial that is based on the amino-terminus of the M protein provides type-specific immunity, and hence seems ineffective in India because of heterogeneous emm types. However, the conserved C-terminal region of the M protein protects against multiple serotypes. In this paper, the immune response generated against the conserved C-repeat region of the M protein was checked in an Indian population to establish their vaccine candidature.When screened for GAS, patients with pharyngitis, rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease (RF/RHD), and invasive disease showed heterogeneous emm types, out of which five prevalent types (1-2, 11, 49, 75 and 112) were selected for the study. The C-terminal region of their M proteins showed conserved C1-, C2-, and C3-repeats. The C1-repeat was more diverse and had two different J14-like sequences. Peptides to these C-terminal regions (J14.1 and J14-R6) were designed. Antibodies against these peptides were analyzed using the sera of 130 GAS-infected volunteers.Serum antibodies were significantly higher in patients with acute rheumatic fever, RHD, and invasive disease than in patients with pharyngitis or the healthy controls. The serum antibodies to these peptides was higher in teenagers and adults than in children.Results showed an association between streptococcal disease progression and the age-related development of immunity to the conserved regions. Hence, these peptides could be considered protective in impeding streptococcal infections worldwide.