Bioengineering commensal bacteria-derived outer membrane vesicles for delivery of biologics to the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract

Ana L. Carvalho, Sonia Fonseca, Ariadna Miquel-Clopés, Kathryn Cross, Khoon S. Kok, Udo Wegmann, Katherine Gil-Cordoso, Eleanor G. Bentley, Sanaria H.M. Al Katy, Janine L. Coombes, Anja Kipar, Regis Stentz, James P. Stewart, Simon R. Carding

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Gram-negative bacteria naturally produce and secrete nanosized outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). In the human gastrointestinal tract, OMVs produced by commensal Gram-negative bacteria can mediate interactions amongst host cells (including between epithelial cells and immune cells) and maintain microbial homeostasis. This OMV-mediated pathway for host-microbe interactions could be exploited to deliver biologically active proteins to the body. To test this we engineered the Gram-negative bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Bt), a prominent member of the intestinal microbiota of all animals, to incorporate bacteria-, virus- and human-derived proteins into its OMVs. We then used the engineered Bt OMVs to deliver these proteins to the respiratory and gastrointestinal (GI)-tract to protect against infection, tissue inflammation and injury. Our findings demonstrate the ability to express and package both Salmonella enterica ser. Typhimurium-derived vaccine antigens and influenza A virus (IAV)-derived vaccine antigens within or on the outer membrane of Bt OMVs. These antigens were in a form capable of eliciting antigen-specific immune and antibody responses in both mucosal tissues and systemically. Furthermore, immunisation with OMVs containing the core stalk region of the IAV H5 hemagglutinin from an H5N1 strain induced heterotypic protection in mice to a 10-fold lethal dose of an unrelated subtype (H1N1) of IAV. We also showed that OMVs could express the human therapeutic protein, keratinocyte growth factor-2 (KGF-2), in a stable form that, when delivered orally, reduced disease severity and promoted intestinal epithelial repair and recovery in animals administered colitis-inducing dextran sodium sulfate. Collectively, our data demonstrates the utility and effectiveness of using Bt OMVs as a mucosal biologics and drug delivery platform technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1632100
JournalJournal of Extracellular Vesicles
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • bacterial microvesicles
  • Commensal bacteria
  • mucosal drug delivery
  • mucosal vaccines
  • outer membrane vesicles
  • therapeutic proteins

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