The protective efficacy of immunisation with heat-killed on murine gut-derived sepsis was evaluated. Mice were immunised intraperitoneally six times with heat-killed bacteria. This induced mean (SEM) serum IgG and IgM antibodies of 1792 (374.7) and 37.3 (8.9) ELISA units, respectively. Specific pathogen-free mice given strain D4 orally died of bacteraemia after administration of cyclophosphamide. Immunisation with heat-killed bacteria significantly increased the survival rate compared with that of control mice immunised with bovine serum albumin. Macroscopic observation revealed marked production of liver abscesses in mice immunised with bovine serum albumin but not in those immunised with heat-killed bacteria. Only low titres of antibody against the exoenzymes alkaline protease, elastase and exotoxin A were observed, and no significant difference between antibody titres to boiled and unboiled suspensions of sonicated was detected. This suggests that the main protective antibodies might be those specific to the heat stable antigen (lipopolysaccharide). Immunisation with heat-killed bacteria provided complete protection against death from gut-derived sepsis.


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