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Vaccine. 2011 Oct 26;29(46):8381-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.08.058. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

A naturally derived outer-membrane vesicle vaccine protects against lethal pulmonary Burkholderia pseudomallei infection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA.


Burkholderia pseudomallei, and other members of the Burkholderia, are among the most antibiotic-resistant bacterial species encountered in human infection. Mortality rates associated with severe B. pseudomallei infection approach 50% despite therapeutic treatment. A protective vaccine against B. pseudomallei would dramatically reduce morbidity and mortality in endemic areas and provide a safeguard for the U.S. and other countries against biological attack with this organism. In this study, we investigated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of B. pseudomallei-derived outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). Vesicles are produced by Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and contain many of the bacterial products recognized by the host immune system during infection. We demonstrate that subcutaneous (SC) immunization with OMVs provides significant protection against an otherwise lethal B. pseudomallei aerosol challenge in BALB/c mice. Mice immunized with B. pseudomallei OMVs displayed OMV-specific serum antibody and T-cell memory responses. Furthermore, OMV-mediated immunity appears species-specific as cross-reactive antibody and T cells were not generated in mice immunized with Escherichia coli-derived OMVs. These results provide the first compelling evidence that OMVs represent a non-living vaccine formulation that is able to produce protective humoral and cellular immunity against an aerosolized intracellular bacterium. This vaccine platform constitutes a safe and inexpensive immunization strategy against B. pseudomallei that can be exploited for other intracellular respiratory pathogens, including other Burkholderia and bacteria capable of establishing persistent infection.

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