Buruli ulcer

Hum Vaccin. 2011 Nov;7(11):1198-203. doi: 10.4161/hv.7.11.17751. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Buruli Ulcer (BU) is a neglected, necrotizing skin disease, caused by M. ulcerans, that can leave patients with prominent scars and lifelong disability. M. ulcerans produces a diffusible lipid toxin, mycolactone, essential for bacterial virulence. Prevention is difficult as little is known about disease transmission and there is no vaccine. There have been several recent advances in the field. These include sequencing of the bacterial genome and of the giant plasmid responsible for mycolactone synthesis, better understanding of the bacterial lifecycle and of the mechanism of action of the toxin. This work has revealed a number of possible vaccine candidates, some of which are shared with other mycobacteria, e.g. M. tuberculosis, while other targets are unique to M. ulcerans. In this review, we discuss several M. ulcerans vaccine targets and vaccination methods, and outline some of the gaps in our understanding of the bacterium and the immune response against it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Vaccines / genetics
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Buruli Ulcer / immunology
  • Buruli Ulcer / microbiology
  • Buruli Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Macrolides / immunology
  • Mycobacterium ulcerans / genetics
  • Mycobacterium ulcerans / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / genetics
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / immunology
  • Vaccines, DNA / genetics
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology*
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Macrolides
  • Vaccines, Attenuated
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • mycolactone