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J Exp Med. 2000 Jun 5;191(11):1841-52.

Protective immunity to Bordetella pertussis requires both B cells and CD4(+) T cells for key functions other than specific antibody production.

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Laboratory of Pertussis, Division of Bacterial Products, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


To investigate the fundamental nature of protective immunity to Bordetella pertussis, we studied intranasal immunization of adult mice with formalin-fixed B. pertussis (FFBP), followed by aerosol B. pertussis challenge. Mice given two doses of FFBP intranasally completely cleared a subsequent pertussis aerosol challenge from tracheae and lungs (defined as protection), but there was no correlation between levels of specific antibody and clearance of bacteria. Further, transfer of immune serum before aerosol challenge had minimal effects on bacterial burdens. However, pertussis-specific T cells producing interferon gamma but not interleukin 4 or interleukin 10 were detected in draining lymph nodes of FFBP-immunized mice. Significantly, repeated immunization of B cell knockout (BKO) mice resulted in partial protection, and complete protection was reconstituted by transfer of pertussis-immune B cells; reconstituted BKO mice had little if any detectable antipertussis antibodies. Immunization of mice lacking all T cells or lacking CD4(+) T cells did not lead to protection; in contrast, CD8(-) mice were protected. Mice depleted of CD4(+) T cells after immunization but before aerosol challenge, which thus had normal amounts of specific antibodies, were not optimally protected. Taken together, these data indicate that protective immunity to pertussis is dependent on both CD4(+) T cells and B cells, and both cell types provide significant functions other than specific antibody production.

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