Outer Membrane Vesicles of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae Exert Immunomodulatory Effects on Porcine Alveolar Macrophages

Zhuang Zhu, Fabio Antenucci, Hanne Cecilie Winther-Larsen, Kerstin Skovgaard, Anders Miki Bojesen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are spontaneously released by Gram-negative bacteria, including Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, which causes contagious pleuropneumonia in pigs and leads to considerable economic losses in the swine industry worldwide. A. pleuropneumoniae OMVs have previously been demonstrated to contain Apx toxins and proteases, as well as antigenic proteins. Nevertheless, comprehensive characterizations of their contents and interactions with host immune cells have not been made. Understanding the protein compositions and immunomodulating ability of A. pleuropneumoniae OMVs could help illuminate their biological functions and facilitate the development of OMV-based applications. In the current investigation, we comprehensively characterized the proteome of native A. pleuropneumoniae OMVs. Moreover, we qualitatively and quantitatively compared the OMV proteomes of a wild-type strain and three mutant strains, in which relevant genes were disrupted to increase OMV production and/or produce OMVs devoid of superantigen PalA. Furthermore, the interaction between A. pleuropneumoniae OMVs and porcine alveolar macrophages was also characterized. Our results indicate that native OMVs spontaneously released by A. pleuropneumoniae MIDG2331 appeared to dampen the innate immune responses by porcine alveolar macrophages stimulated by either inactivated or live parent cells. The findings suggest that OMVs may play a role in manipulating the porcine defense during the initial phases of the A. pleuropneumoniae infection. IMPORTANCE Owing to their built-in adjuvanticity and antigenicity, bacterial outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are gaining increasing attention as potential vaccines for both human and animal use. OMVs released by Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, an important respiratory pathogen in pigs, have also been investigated for vaccine development. Our previous studies have shown that A. pleuropneumoniae secretes OMVs containing multiple immunogenic proteins. However, immunization of pigs with these vesicles was not able to relieve the pig lung lesions induced by the challenge with A. pleuropneumoniae, implying the elusive roles that A. pleuropneumoniae OMVs play in host-pathogen interaction. Here, we showed that A. pleuropneumoniae secretes OMVs whose yield and protein content can be altered by the deletion of the nlpI and palA genes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that A. pleuropneumoniae OMVs dampen the immune responses in porcine alveolar macrophages stimulated by A. pleuropneumoniae cells, suggesting a novel mechanism that A. pleuropneumoniae might use to evade host defense.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181922
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number5
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Outer membranes vesicles
  • Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae
  • Proteomics
  • Porcine alveolar macrophages
  • Innate immune response response
  • Host-pathogen interaction


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