The recent immunological investigations, stemming from the studies performed in the nineties within the clinical trials of the acellular pertussis (aP) vaccines, have highlighted the important role played by T-cell immunity to pertussis in humans. These studies largely confirmed earlier investigations in the murine respiratory infection models that humoral immunity alone is not sufficient to confer protection against Bordetella pertussis infection and that T-cell immunity is required. Over the last years, knowledge of T-cell immune response to B. pertussis has expanded broadly, taking advantage of the general progress in the understanding of anti-bacterial immunity and of refinements in methods to approach immunological investigations. In particular, experimental models of B. pertussis infection highlighted the cooperative role played by T-helper (Th)1 and Th17 cells for protection. Furthermore, the new baboon experimental model suggested a plausible explanation for the differences observed in the strength and persistence of protective immunity induced by the acellular or whole-cell pertussis vaccines and natural infection in humans, contributing to explain the upsurge of recent pertussis outbreaks. Despite the progress, open questions remain, the answer to them will possibly provide better tools to fight one of the hardest-to-control vaccine preventable disease.
Authors:Fedele G1, Cassone A2, Ausiello CM3.
Journal:Pathog Dis. 2015