BACKGROUND: Maternal antibodies give neonates some protection against bacterial infection. We measured antibodies against Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, Y and W135 in mothers and their 2-month-old infants at study enrollment. We also assessed the impact of maternal antibody present at 2 months of age on the immune response to a primary course of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY-CRM197) given at 2 and 4 months of age. METHODS: This was a single-center, open-label, randomized study undertaken in Oxford, United Kingdom. Two hundred sixteen healthy infants were enrolled in the study and vaccinated with MenACWY-CRM197 at 2 and 4 months of age. Blood was obtained from all mothers, in a subset of infants at 2 months and all infants at 5 months. Antibody and memory B-cell responses at 5 months were correlated with maternal antibodies. RESULTS: Mothers had low IgG antibodies against serogroups C, W135 and Y polysaccharides, but high serogroup A antibody, whereas 61-78% had protective human complement serum bactericidal activity (hSBA) (≥1:4) for serogroups C, W135 and Y but only 31% for serogroup A. Only 9%, 32%, 45% and 19% of 2-month-old infants had hSBA ≥1:4 for serogroups A, C, W135 and Y, respectively. Maternal antibody had little association on responses to MenACWY-CRM197, except a moderate negative association between MenC-specific bactericidal antibody at 2 and 5 months (r = -0.5, P = 0.006, n = 28) and between carrier-specific IgG antibody at 2 months and MenC-specific hSBA/IgG antibody at 5 months (r = -0.4, P = 0.02 and 0.04, n = 32 and 23). Nonetheless, 90% of infants achieved protective MenC-hSBA titers after vaccination at 2 and 4 months of age. CONCLUSIONS: The levels of serogroup-specific meningococcal antibodies were low in mothers and 2-month-old infants. Immunizing mothers before or during pregnancy with meningococcal conjugate vaccines might increase antibody levels in early infancy and provide protection against infection due to N. meningitidis.

Original publication




Journal article


Pediatr Infect Dis J

Publication Date





768 - 776


Antibodies, Bacterial, B-Lymphocytes, Female, Humans, Immunity, Maternally-Acquired, Immunologic Memory, Infant, Meningococcal Vaccines, Neisseria meningitidis, Placenta, Pregnancy, Seroepidemiologic Studies, United Kingdom, Vaccination