Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18: E340–E346
Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis are closely related bacterial agents of whooping cough. Whole-cell pertussis (wP) vaccine was introduced in France in 1959. Acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine was introduced in 1998 as an adolescent booster and was rapidly generalized to the whole population, changing herd immunity by specifically targeting the virulence of the bacteria. We performed a temporal analysis of all French B. pertussis and B. parapertussis isolates collected since 2000 under aP vaccine pressure, using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), genotyping and detection of expression of virulence factors. Particular isolates were selected according to their different phenotype and PFGE type and their characteristics were analysed using the murine model of respiratory infection and in vitro cell cytotoxic assay. Since the introduction of the aP vaccines there has been a steady increase in the number of B. pertussis and B. parapertussis isolates collected that are lacking expression of pertactin. These isolates seem to be as virulent as those expressing all virulence factors according to animal and cellular models of infection. Whereas wP vaccine-induced immunity led to a monomorphic population of B. pertussis, aP vaccine-induced immunity enabled the number of circulating B. pertussis and B. parapertussis isolates not expressing virulence factors to increase, sustaining our previous hypothesis.