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Pathog Dis. 2015 Dec;73(9):ftv081. doi: 10.1093/femspd/ftv081. Epub 2015 Oct 2.

Review of the neutrophil response to Bordetella pertussis infection.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


The nature and timing of the neutrophil response to infection with Bordetella pertussis is influenced by multiple virulence factors expressed by the bacterium. After inoculation of the host airway, the recruitment of neutrophils signaled by B. pertussis lipooligosaccharide (LOS) is suppressed by pertussis toxin (PTX). Over the next week, the combined activities of PTX, LOS and adenylate cyclase toxin (ACT) result in production of cytokines that generate an IL-17 response, promoting neutrophil recruitment which peaks at 10-14 days after inoculation in mice. Arriving at the site of infection, neutrophils encounter the powerful local inhibitory activity of ACT, in conjunction with filamentous hemagglutinin. With the help of antibodies, neutrophils contribute to clearance of B. pertussis, but only after 28-35 days in a naïve mouse. Studies of the lasting, antigen-specific IL-17 response to infection in mice and baboons has led to progress in vaccine development and understanding of pathogenesis. Questions remain about the mediators that coordinate neutrophil recruitment and the mechanisms by which neutrophils overcome B. pertussis virulence factors.


Bordetella pertussis; IL-17; neutrophil; toxin; vaccine

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