Designer outer membrane vesicles as immunomodulatory systems - Reprogramming bacteria for vaccine delivery

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2017 May 15;114:132-142. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2017.05.003. Epub 2017 May 10.


Vaccines often require adjuvants to be effective. Traditional adjuvants, like alum, activate the immune response but in an uncontrolled way. Newer adjuvants help to direct the immune response in a more coordinated fashion. Here, we review the opportunity to use the outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) of bacteria as a way to modulate the immune response toward making more effective vaccines. This review outlines the different types of OMVs that have been investigated for vaccine delivery and how they are produced. Because OMVs are derived from bacteria, they have compositions that may not be compatible with parenteral delivery in humans; therefore, we also review the strategies brought to bear to detoxify OMVs while maintaining an adjuvant profile. OMV-based vaccines can be derived from the pathogens themselves, or can be used as surrogate constructs to mimic a pathogen through the heterologous expression of specific antigens in a desired host source strain, and approaches to doing so are reviewed. Additionally, the emerging area of engineered pathogen-specific carbohydrate sequences, or glycosylated OMVs is reviewed and contrasted with protein antigen delivery. Existing OMV-based vaccines as well as their routes of administration round out the text. Overall, this is an exciting time in the OMV field as it matures and leads to more effective and targeted ways to induce desired pathogen-specific immune responses.

Keywords: Adjuvant; Immune response; LPS; OMV; Outer membrane vesicle; Subunit vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Animals
  • Antigens / biosynthesis
  • Antigens / genetics
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Bacteria / cytology*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / immunology*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccines / immunology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens
  • Vaccines