A single-dose antihelminthic treatment does not influence immunogenicity of a meningococcal and a cholera vaccine in Gabonese school children


We recently described the effect of a single-dose antihelminthic treatment on vaccine immunogenicity to a seasonal influenza vaccine. Here we report the effect of antihelminthics on the immunogenicity of a meningococcal vaccine and a cholera vaccine in primary school children living in Lambaréné, Gabon. Since infection with helminths remains a major public health problem and the influence on cognitive and physical development as well as the immunomodulatory effects are well established, we investigated if a single-dose antihelminthic treatment prior to immunization positively influences antibody titers and vaccine-specific memory B-cells. Methods In this placebo-controlled, double-blind trial the effect of a single-dose antihelminthic treatment prior to immunization with a meningococcal as well as with a cholera vaccine was investigated. Anti-meningococcal antibodies were assessed by serum bactericidal assay, cholera vaccine-specific antibody titers by Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) at baseline (Day 0; vaccination), four weeks (Day 28) and 12 weeks (Day 84) following vaccination. Meningococcal and cholera vaccine-specific memory B-cells were measured at Day 0 and 84 by vaccine-specific Enzyme-linked Immunospot (ELISpot) assay. The helminth burden of the participants was assessed four weeks before vaccination (Day −28) and at Day 84 by the Merthiolate-Iodine-Formaldehyde technique. Results Out of 280 screened school children, 96 received a meningococcal vaccine and 89 a cholera vaccine following allocation to either the single-dose antihelminthic treatment group or the placebo group. Bactericidal antibody titers increased following immunization with the meningococcal vaccine at Day 28 and Day 84 in 68 participants for serogroup A, and in 80 participants for serogroup C. The cholera vaccine titers increased in all participants with a peak at Day 28. The number of memory B-cells increased following vaccination compared to baseline. There was no statistically significant difference in antibody and B-cell response between children receiving albendazole compared to those receiving placebo. Conclusion A single-dose treatment with albendazole prior to immunization had no effect on meningococcal or cholera vaccine immunogenicity in our study population.