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Capsular group X N. meningitidis (MenX) has emerged as a cause of localized disease outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa, but the human immune response following exposure to MenX antigens is poorly described. We therefore assessed the natural immunity against MenX in individuals who were living in an area affected by a MenX outbreak during 2007 in Togo, West Africa. During 2009, 300 healthy individuals (100 aged 3-5 years, 100 aged 13-19 years and 100 aged 20-25 years) were included in the study, and serum responses were compared with sera from age-matched controls from the U.K. and Burkina Faso.MenX serum bactericidal antibody (SBA) was measured using rabbit complement, and antibodies against MenX polysaccharide (XPS) and outer membrane vesicles (XOMVs) were quantified by ELISA.The proportion of Togolese individuals with an SBA titer of ≥8 against the MenX strain was 29% (95% confidence interval (CI) 18-41) among those aged 3-5 years, 34% (95% CI 9-60) among those aged 13-19 years and 32% (95% CI 24-40) among those aged 20-25 years. These were significantly higher than observed in the control populations from the U.K (range 13-16%) and Burkina Faso (range 2-6%).In Togolese individuals, the concentration of serum IgG against XPS was higher among the two older age groups as compared to the youngest age group. Antibody concentrations against MenX PS correlated significantly with SBA titers. This supports further development of a MenX PS based conjugate vaccine. Further studies are needed to verify the ability of MenX PS to induce SBA in humans.

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Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford, UK; Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. Electronic address: