Vaccination with a live attenuated Acinetobacter baumannii deficient in thioredoxin provides protection against systemic Acinetobacter infection

Sarah Ainsworth, Patrick M. Ketter, Jieh Juen Yu, Rose C. Grimm, Holly C. May, Andrew P. Cap, James P. Chambers, M. Neal Guentzel, Bernard P. Arulanandam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDR-Ab), an opportunistic pathogen associated with nosocomial and combat related infections, has a high mortality due to its virulence and limited treatment options. Deletion of the thioredoxin gene (TrxA) from a clinical isolate of MDR-Ab resulted in a 100-fold increase in 50% lethal dose (LD50) in a systemic challenge murine model. Thus, we investigated the potential use of this attenuated strain as a live vaccine against MDR-Ab. Mice were vaccinated by subcutaneous (s.c.) injection of 2 × 105 CFU of the ΔtrxA mutant, boosted 14 days later with an equivalent inoculum, and then challenged 30 days post-vaccination by i.p. injection with 10 LD50 of the wild type (WT) Ci79 strain. Efficacy of vaccination was evaluated by monitoring MDR-Ab specific antibody titers and cytokine production, observing pathology and organ burdens after WT challenge, and measuring levels of serum pentraxin-3, a molecular correlate of A. baumannii infection severity, before and after challenge. Mice vaccinated with ΔtrxA were fully protected against the lethal challenge of WT. However, minimal immunoglobulin class switching was observed with IgM predominating. Spleens harvested from vaccinated mice exhibited negligible levels of IL-4, IFN-γ and IL-17 production when stimulated with UV-inactivated WT Ci79. Importantly, tissues obtained from vaccinated mice displayed reduced pathology and organ burden compared to challenged non-vaccinated mice. Additionally, serum pentraxin-3 concentrations were not increased 24 h after challenge in vaccinated mice, correlating with reduction of WT MDR-Ab infection in ΔtrxA immunized mice. Furthermore, passive immunization with ΔtrxA-immune sera provided protection against lethal systemic Ci79 challenge. Collectively, the defined live attenuated ΔtrxA strain is a vaccine candidate against emerging MDR Acinetobacter infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3387-3394
Number of pages8
Issue number26
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Acinetobacter baumannii
  • Pentraxin-3
  • Thioredoxin
  • Vaccine


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