A number of pneumococcal type 4 poly- and oligosaccharide tetanus toxoid conjugates were prepared using identical conjugation methods. Purified conjugates with similar m.w. were injected in mice; polysaccharide conjugates (PS4TT) were more immunogenic than oligosaccharide conjugates (OS4TT). Polysaccharide conjugates with a PS4:TT ratio less than 1 (w/w) appeared to be the most immunogenic conjugates. This was observed in both NIH (outbred) and BALB/c (inbred) strains of mice. Oligosaccharide tetanus toxoid conjugates required w/w ratios of greater than 1 to acquire optimal immunogenicity. Oligosaccharides (12 repeating units) of pneumococcal type 4, obtained by periodate cleavage, appeared to retain full antigenicity as measured by competition ELISA. Both PS4TT and OS4TT conjugates induced an antibody response with the characteristics of a T cell-dependent type of immune response. An anti-PS4 IgG and IgM booster effect could be demonstrated for all conjugates. The IgG subclass response induced by PS4TT and OS4TT conjugates is primarily IgG1 but IgG3 is also detectable. However, the amounts of anti-PS4 IgG3 differed for the various conjugates. We conclude that the immune response induced by pneumococcal type 4 saccharide tetanus toxoid conjugates can be manipulated by variation of the saccharide:protein ratio and the saccharide chain length, whereas keeping the m.w. of such conjugates at constant values.

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