Membrane Vesicles of Clostridium Perfringens Type A Strains Induce Innate and Adaptive Immunity

Int J Med Microbiol. 2014 May;304(3-4):431-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Feb 19.


Vesicle shedding from bacteria is a universal process in most Gram-negative bacteria and a few Gram-positive bacteria. In this report, we isolate extracellular membrane vesicles (MVs) from the supernatants of Gram-positive pathogen Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens). We demonstrated vesicle production in a variety of virulent and nonvirulent type A strains. MVs did not contain alpha-toxin and NetB toxin demonstrated by negative reaction to specific antibody and absence of specific proteins identified by LC-MS/MS. C. perfringens MVs contained DNA components such as 16S ribosomal RNA gene (16S rRNA), alpha-toxin gene (plc) and the perfringolysin O gene (pfoA) demonstrated by PCR. We also identified a total of 431 proteins in vesicles by 1-D gel separation and LC-MS/MS analysis. In vitro studies demonstrated that vesicles could be internalized into murine macrophage RAW264.7 cells without direct cytotoxicity effects, causing release of inflammation cytokines including granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1), which could also be detected in mice injected with MVs through intraperitoneal (i.p.) route. Mice immunized with C. perfringens MVs produced high titer IgG, especially IgG1, antibodies against C. perfringens membrane proteins. However, this kind of antibody could not provide protection in mice following challenge, though it could slightly postpone the time of death. Our results indicate that release of MVs from C. perfringens could provide a previously unknown mechanism to induce release of inflammatory cytokines, especially TNF-α, these findings may contribute to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of C. perfringens infection.

Keywords: C. perfringens; Immunity; Membrane vesicles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Clostridium perfringens / immunology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Endocytosis
  • Female
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Secretory Vesicles / chemistry
  • Secretory Vesicles / immunology*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Immunoglobulin G