Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Neisseria meningitidis is a major cause of bacterial meningitis and a considerable health problem in the 25 countries of the 'African Meningitis Belt' that extends from Senegal in West Africa to Ethiopia in the East. Approximately 80% of cases of meningococcal meningitis in Africa have been caused by strains belonging to capsular serogroup A. After the introduction of a serogroup A conjugate polysaccharide vaccine, MenAfriVac (™), that began in December 2010, the incidence of meningitis due to serogroup A has markedly declined in this region. Currently, serogroup W of N. meningitidis accounts for the majority of cases. Vaccines based on sub-capsular antigens, such as Generalized Modules for Membrane Antigens (GMMA), are under investigation for use in Africa. To analyse the antigenic properties of a serogroup W wave of colonisation and disease, we investigated the molecular diversity of the protein vaccine antigens PorA, Neisserial Adhesin A (NadA), Neisserial heparin-binding antigen (NHBA) and factor H binding protein (fHbp) of 31 invasive and carriage serogroup W isolates collected as part of a longitudinal study from Ghana and Burkina Faso between 2003 and 2009. We found that the isolates all expressed fHbp variant 2 ID 22 or 23, differing from each other by only one amino acid, and a single PorA subtype of P1.5,2. Of the isolates, 49% had a functional nhbA gene and 100% had the nadA allele 3, which contained the insertion sequence IS1301 in five isolates. Of the W isolates tested, 41% had high fHbp expression when compared with a reference serogroup B strain, known to be a high expresser of fHbp variant 2. Our results indicate that in this collection of serogroup W isolates, there is limited antigenic diversification over time of vaccine candidate outer membrane proteins (OMP), thus making them promising candidates for inclusion in a protein-based vaccine against meningococcal meningitis for Africa.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Neisseria meningitidis; meningococcus; meningitis; serogroup W; factor H binding protein; NadA, NHBA