Adhesins as targets for vaccine development

Emerg Infect Dis. May-Jun 1999;5(3):395-403. doi: 10.3201/eid0503.990310.


Blocking the primary stages of infection, namely bacterial attachment to host cell receptors and colonization of the mucosal surface, may be the most effective strategy to prevent bacterial infections. Bacterial attachment usually involves an interaction between a bacterial surface protein called an adhesin and the host cell receptor. Recent preclinical vaccine studies with the FimH adhesin (derived from uropathogenic Escherichia coli) have confirmed that antibodies elicited against an adhesin can impede colonization, block infection, and prevent disease. The studies indicate that prophylactic vaccination with adhesins can block bacterial infections. With recent advances in the identification, characterization, and isolation of other adhesins, similar approaches are being explored to prevent infections, from otitis media and dental caries to pneumonia and sepsis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli*
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / physiology
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Bacterial Vaccines*
  • Fimbriae Proteins*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology
  • Humans


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • fimH protein, E coli
  • Fimbriae Proteins