Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine


Review Article

Virulence factors in brucellosis: implications for aetiopathogenesis and treatment

Emilie Fugiera1, Georgios Pappasa2 and Jean-Pierre Gorvela1 c1

a1 Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille Luminy (CIML), Inserm U631, CNRS, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France.

a2 Institute of Continuing Medical Education of Ioannina, H. Trikoupi 10, Ioannina 45333, Greece.


Brucella species are responsible for the global zoonotic disease brucellosis. These intracellular pathogens express a set of factors – including lipopolysaccharides, virulence regulator proteins and phosphatidylcholine – to ensure their full virulence. Some virulence factors are essential for invasion of the host cell, whereas others are crucial to avoid elimination by the host. They allow Brucella spp. to survive and proliferate within its replicative vacuole and enable the bacteria to escape detection by the host immune system. Several strategies have been used to develop animal vaccines against brucellosis, but no adequate vaccine yet exists to cure the disease in humans. This is probably due to the complicated pathophysiology of human Brucella spp. infection, which is different than in animal models. Here we review Brucella spp. virulence factors and how they control bacterial trafficking within the host cell.


c1 Corresponding author: Jean-Pierre Gorvel, Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille Luminy (CIML), Inserm U631, CNRS UMR 6102, Aix-Marseille University, Case 906, 13288 Marseille Cedex 09, France. Tel:  +33 491 269 418; Fax:  +33 491 269 426; E-mail: