Lipopolysaccharide modifications of a cholera vaccine candidate based on outer membrane vesicles reduce endotoxicity and reveal the major protective antigen

Infect Immun. 2013 Jul;81(7):2379-93. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01382-12. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


The causative agent of the life-threatening gastrointestinal infectious disease cholera is the Gram-negative, facultative human pathogen Vibrio cholerae. We recently started to investigate the potential of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) derived from V. cholerae as an alternative approach for a vaccine candidate against cholera and successfully demonstrated the induction of a long-lasting, high-titer, protective immune response upon immunization with OMVs using the mouse model. In this study, we present immunization data using lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-modified OMVs derived from V. cholerae, which allowed us to improve and identify the major protective antigen of the vaccine candidate. Our results indicate that reduction of endotoxicity can be achieved without diminishing the immunogenic potential of the vaccine candidate by genetic modification of lipid A. Although the protective potential of anti-LPS antibodies has been suggested many times, this is the first comprehensive study that uses defined LPS mutants to characterize the LPS-directed immune response of a cholera vaccine candidate in more detail. Our results pinpoint the O antigen to be the essential immunogenic structure and provide a protective mechanism based on inhibition of motility, which prevents a successful colonization. In a detailed analysis using defined antisera, we can demonstrate that only anti-O antigen antibodies, but not antibodies directed against the major flagellar subunit FlaA or the most abundant outer membrane protein, OmpU, are capable of effectively blocking the motility by binding to the sheathed flagellum and provide protection in a passive immunization assay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / immunology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Cholera / immunology
  • Cholera / microbiology
  • Cholera / prevention & control*
  • Cholera Vaccines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fimbriae Proteins / immunology
  • Flagella / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Lipid A / genetics
  • Lipid A / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • O Antigens / genetics
  • O Antigens / immunology*
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Vibrio cholerae / genetics
  • Vibrio cholerae / immunology*


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Cholera Vaccines
  • Lipid A
  • O Antigens
  • OmpU protein, Vibrio cholerae
  • TcpA protein, Vibrio cholerae
  • Fimbriae Proteins