Immunization with urease can protect mice from challenge with Helicobacter pylori, though results vary depending on the particular vaccine, challenge strain, and method of evaluation. Unlike mice, rhesus monkeys are naturally colonized with H. pylori and so may provide a better estimate of vaccine efficacy in humans. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of H. pylori urease as a vaccine in specific-pathogen (H. pylori)-free rhesus monkeys. Monkeys raised from birth and documented to be free of H. pylori were vaccinated with orogastric (n = 4) or intramuscular (n = 5) urease. Two control monkeys were sham vaccinated. All monkeys were challenged with a rhesus monkey-derived strain of H. pylori, and the effects of vaccination were evaluated by use of quantitative cultures of gastric tissue, histology, and measurement of serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) and salivary IgA. Despite a humoral immune response, all monkeys were infected after H. pylori challenge, and there were no differences in the density of colonization. Immunization with urease therefore does not fully protect against challenge with H. pylori. An effective vaccine to prevent H. pylori infection will require different or more likely additional antigens, as well as improvements in the stimulation of the host immune response.
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