Vaccines against gonorrhea: current status and future challenges

Vaccine. 2014 Mar 20;32(14):1579-87. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.08.067. Epub 2013 Sep 6.


Gonorrhea occurs at high incidence throughout the world and significantly impacts reproductive health and the spread of human immunodeficiency virus. Current control measures are inadequate and seriously threatened by the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance. Progress on gonorrhea vaccines has been slow; however, recent advances justify significant effort in this area. Conserved vaccine antigens have been identified that elicit bactericidal antibodies and, or play key roles in pathogenesis that could be targeted by a vaccine-induced response. A murine genital tract infection model is available for systematic testing of antigens, immunization routes and adjuvants, and transgenic mice exist to relieve some host restrictions. Furthermore, mechanisms by which Neisseria gonorrhoeae avoids inducing a protective adaptive response are being elucidated using human cells and the mouse model. Induction of a Th1 response in mice clears infection and induces a memory response, which suggests Th1-inducing adjuvants may be key in vaccine-induced protection. Continued research in this area should include human testing and clinical studies to confirm or negate findings from experimental systems and to define protective host factors.

Keywords: Antibodies; Gonococcal antigens; Immune regulation; Immunity; Innate defenses; T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / immunology
  • Gonorrhea / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Vaccination / trends


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Vaccines