To be effective, orally administered live Salmonella vaccines must first survive their encounter with the low pH environment of the stomach. To enhance survival, an antacid is often given to neutralize the acidic environment of the stomach just prior to or concomitant with administration of the vaccine. One drawback of this approach, from the perspective of the clinical trial volunteer, is that the taste of a bicarbonate-based acid neutralization system can be unpleasant. Thus, we explored an alternative method that would be at least as effective as bicarbonate and with a potentially more acceptable taste. Because ingestion of protein can rapidly buffer stomach pH, we examined the possibility that the protein-rich Ensure® Nutrition shakes would be effective alternatives to bicarbonate.
We tested one Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and three Salmonella Typhi vaccine strains and found that all strains survived equally well when incubated in either Ensure® or bicarbonate. In a low gastric pH mouse model, Ensure® worked as well or better than bicarbonate to enhance survival through the intestinal tract, although neither agent enhanced the survival of the S. Typhi test strain possessing a rpoS mutation.
Our data show that a protein-rich drink such as Ensure® Nutrition shakes can serve as an alternative to bicarbonate for reducing gastric pH prior to administration of a live Salmonella vaccine.