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MenB-4C is a meningococcal vaccine for the prevention of serogroup B disease. The vaccine contains factor H binding protein (FHbp) and three other antigens that can elicit serum bactericidal antibodies (SBA). For vaccine licensure, efficacy was inferred from the SBA responses against three antigen-specific indicator strains. The relation between those results and broad protection against circulating genetically diverse strains is not known. Twenty adults were immunized with two doses of MenB-4C given 1 to 2 months apart. SBA activity against 3 reference strains and 15 serogroup B test strains (6 from college outbreaks) was measured. Compared to the preimmunization titers, 70%, 95%, and 95% of subjects had ≥4-fold increases in the titers of anti-PorA P1.4, anti-NadA, and anti-FHbp antibodies against the reference strains, respectively. In contrast, only 25 to 45% of the subjects had ≥4-fold increases in responses to 10 of the 15 test strains, including 8 that expressed one to three of the antigens in the vaccine. At 1 month, the majority of subjects with <4-fold titer increases had serum titers of ≥1:4, which are considered sufficient for protection. However, the titers against four strains declined to <1:4 by 4 to 6 months in one-third to greater than 50% of the subjects tested. Clinically relevant isolates are often more resistant to SBA than the indicator strains used to measure antigen-specific SBA. A working model is that the percentage of subjects with titers of ≥1:4 at 1 month postimmunization correlates with short-term protection against that strain, whereas the percentage of subjects with ≥4-fold titer increases represents a more robust response. (The protocol used at the Oxford Vaccine Group has been registered at under registration no. NCT02398396.).

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Vaccine Immunol

Publication Date





Bexsero, FH, FHbp, MenB-4C, autoantibody, complement factor H, factor H binding protein, meningococcal vaccine