Extraintestinal Pathogenic Escherichia coli, a Common Human Pathogen: Challenges for Vaccine Development and Progress in the Field

J Infect Dis. 2016 Jan 1;213(1):6-13. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv429. Epub 2015 Sep 2.


Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) is the most common gram-negative bacterial pathogen in humans. ExPEC causes the vast majority of urinary tract infections (UTIs), is a leading cause of adult bacteremia, and is the second most common cause of neonatal meningitis. Increasing multidrug resistance among ExPEC strains constitutes a major obstacle to treatment and is implicated in increasing numbers of hospitalizations and deaths and increasing healthcare costs associated with ExPEC infections. An effective vaccine against ExPEC infection is urgently needed. The O antigen, a component of the surface lipopolysaccharide, has been identified as a promising vaccine target. With the availability of a novel bioconjugation technology it is expected that multivalent O antigen conjugate vaccines can be produced at industrial scale. Clinical proof of concept of a 4-valent O antigen conjugate vaccine is ongoing. An ExPEC vaccine effective against strains that are associated with major diseases and resistant to multiple drugs could be routinely delivered to individuals at risk of developing severe E. coli infection, such as elderly people, individuals undergoing abdominal surgery and prostatic biopsy procedures, and persons at risk of recurrent and/or complicated UTI.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; O antigen; antimicrobial resistance; disease burden; extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli; urinary tract infection; vaccine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Escherichia coli Infections*
  • Escherichia coli Vaccines*
  • Escherichia coli*
  • Humans
  • O Antigens
  • Urinary Tract Infections


  • Escherichia coli Vaccines
  • O Antigens