Pertussis: a matter of immune modulation

Daan de Gouw

In a recent publication in FEMS Microbiology Reviews, Daan de Gouw (Laboratory of Pediatric Infectious Diseases) and colleagues present a comprehensive and state-of-the-art review on the molecular pathogenesis of pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Pertussis is a highly contagious, acute respiratory disease of humans that is caused by the Gram-negative bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis. In the face of extensive global vaccination, this extremely monomorphic pathogen has persisted and re-emerged, causing approximately 300.000 deaths each year.

In this review, the interaction of B. pertussis with the host mucosal epithelium and immune system is discussed. Using a large number of virulence factors, B. pertussis is able to create a niche for colonization in the human respiratory tract. The successful persistence of this pathogen is mainly due to its ability to interfere with almost every aspect of the immune system, from the inhibition of complement- and phagocyte-mediated killing to the suppression of T- and B-cell responses. Based on these insights, ideas for the rational design of improved vaccines that can target the 'weak spots' in the pathogenesis of this highly successful pathogen are delineated.

de Gouw, D., Diavatopoulos, D. A., Bootsma, H. J., Hermans, P. W. and Mooi, F. R. , Pertussis: a matter of immune modulation. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, no. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2010.00257.x


<< back to overview news items