Several different human vaccines are available to protect against anthrax. We compared the human adaptive immune responses generated by three different anthrax vaccines or by previous exposure to cutaneous anthrax. Adaptive immunity was measured by ELISPOT to count cells that produce interferon (IFN)-γ in response to restimulation ex vivo with the anthrax toxin components PA, LF and EF and by measuring circulating IgG specific to these antigens. Neutralising activity of antisera against anthrax toxin was also assayed. We found that the different exposures to anthrax antigens promoted varying immune responses. Cutaneous anthrax promoted strong IFN-γ responses to all three antigens and antibody responses to PA and LF. The American AVA and Russian LAAV vaccines induced antibody responses to PA only. The British AVP vaccine produced IFN-γ responses to EF and antibody responses to all three antigens. Anti-PA (in AVA and LAAV vaccinees) or anti-LF (in AVP vaccinees) antibody titres correlated with toxin neutralisation activities. Our study is the first to compare all three vaccines in humans and show the diversity of responses against anthrax antigens.
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