Fed-batch cultivation of Bordetella pertussis: Metabolism and Pertussis Toxin production

M. Thalen, M. Venema, A. Dekker, L. Berwald, J. van den IJssel, B. Zomer, E.C. Beuvery, D.E. Martens, J. Tramper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The production of acellular pertussis in comparison with whole cell pertussis vaccines demands 5-25 times the amount of Bordetella pertussis' virulence factors, such as Pertussis Toxin (PT), to produce the same number of vaccine doses. An increase in the volumetric productivity by employing fed-batch rather than the currently used batch cultivations of B. pertussis could reduce the cost price of acellular pertussis vaccines. This study defined the conditions that enable fed-batch cultivations at high specific PT production. A solution containing lactate and glutamate was fed to the cultures at various rates. The feed rate and whether or not the fed substrates were completely consumed, significantly influenced cellular metabolism. If lactate was detectable in the culture broth while glutamate was not, poly-hydroxy-butyrate (PHB) was formed. Any PHB present was metabolized when glutamate became detectable again in the culture liquid. At higher lactate and glutamate concentrations, free fatty acids were produced. Though toxic, free fatty acids were not the reason the cultures stopped growing. By choosing appropriate conditions, a cell density of 6.5 g/L dry weight was reached, i.e. a 7-fold increase compared to batch culture. The metabolic mechanisms behind the formation of PHB and fatty acids are discussed, as well as how to increase the cell density further. The PT production stopped at 12 mg/L, well before growth stopped, indicating that regulatory mechanisms of PT production may be involved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-297
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • fatty-acids
  • whole-cell
  • vaccine


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