The O antigen is a critical antigen for the development of a protective immune response to Bordetella parapertussis

Xuqing Zhang, Elizabeth M. Goebel, Maria Eugenia Rodríguez, Andrew Preston, Eric T. Harvill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Despite excellent vaccine coverage in developed countries, whooping cough is a reemerging disease that can be caused by two closely related pathogens, Bordetella pertussis and B. parapertussis. The two are antigenically distinct, and current vaccines, containing only B. pertussis-derived antigens, confer efficient protection against B. pertussis but not against B. parapertussis. B. pertussis does not express the O antigen, while B. parapertussis retains it as a dominant surface antigen. Since the O antigen is a protective antigen for many pathogenic bacteria, we examined whether this factor is a potential protective antigen for B. parapertussis. In a mouse model of infection, immunization with wild-type B. parapertussis elicited a strong antibody response to the O antigen and conferred efficient protection against a subsequent B. parapertussis challenge. However, immunization with an isogenic mutant lacking the O antigen, B. parapertussis Δwbm, induced antibodies that recognized other antigens but did not efficiently mediate opsonophagocytosis of B. parapertussis. The passive transfer of sera raised against B. parapertussis, but not B. parapertussis Δwbm, reduced B. parapertussis loads in the lower respiratory tracts of mice. The addition of 10 μg of purified B. parapertussis lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which contains the O antigen, but not B. parapertussis Δwbm LPS drastically improved the efficacy of the acellular vaccine Adacel against B. parapertussis. These data suggest that the O antigen is a critical protective antigen of B. parapertussis and its inclusion can substantially improve whooping cough vaccine efficacy against this pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5050-5058
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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