O-antigen from B. parapertussis may drastically improve whooping cough vaccine efficacy against B. parapertussis.

Posted: October 6, 2009

Recent work by workers in Eric Harvill's lab in the center suggest ways to improving the vaccine for whooping cough. Examining the antigens expressed by B. parapertussis, a relative of B. pertussis which is responsible for whooping cough, they find that the O-antigen could be a critical component of future vaccines for this disease.

Despite excellent vaccine coverage in developed countries, whooping cough is a re-emerging disease that can be caused by two closely related pathogens, B. pertussis or B. parapertussis.  Current whooping cough vaccines, containing only B. pertussis-derived antigens, protect against B. pertussis but not B. parapertussis.  Since only B. parapertussis, but not B. pertussis, retains the expression of O-antigen as its dominant surface antigen, we explored whether O-antigen is a protective antigen for B. parapertussis.  In a murine model, infection or vaccination with B. parapertussis, but not O-antigen deficient B. parapertussis, confers protection against secondary B. parapertussis challenge.  O-antigen deficient B. parapertussis induced antibodies have decreased binding to B. parapertussis, did not efficiently mediate opsonophagocytosis of this bacterium and failed to mediate efficient clearance of B. parapertussis in vivo.  Supplementing an acellular vaccine with wide-type, but not O-antigen deficient, LPS improved the efficacy of this vaccine.  These data suggest that O-antigen is a protective antigen of B. parapertussis and its inclusion may drastically improve whooping cough vaccine efficacy against B. parapertussis.


This work was recently published in the journal Infection and Immunity (O-antigen is a Critical Antigen for the Development of a Protective Immune Response to Bordetella parapertussis. Zhang X, Goebel EM, Rodríguez ME, Preston A, Harvill ET. Infect Immun. 2009 Sep)