American Society for Microbiology, Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 11(18), p. 1803-1808
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains are a heterogeneous group of pathogens that produce heat-labile (LT) and/or heat-stable (ST) enterotoxins. Collectively, these pathogens are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths annually in developing countries, particularly in children under the age of 5 years. The heterogeneity of previously investigated molecular targets and the lack of complete sustained protection afforded by antitoxin immunity have impeded progress to date toward a broadly protective vaccine. Many pathogens, including ETEC, have the capacity to form outer membrane vesicles (OMV), which often contain one or more virulence proteins. Prompted by recent studies that identified several immunogenic virulence proteins in outer membrane vesicles of ETEC, we sought to examine the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of these structures in a murine model of infection. Here we demonstrate that immunization with OMV impairs ETEC colonization of the small intestine and stimulates antibodies that recognize the heat-labile toxin and two additional putative virulence proteins, the EtpA adhesin and CexE. Similar to earlier studies with EtpA, vaccination with LT alone also inhibited intestinal colonization. Together, these findings suggest that OMV could be exploited to deliver protective antigens relevant to development of ETEC vaccines.