MBio. 2016 Feb 2;7(1). pii: e02260-15. doi: 10.1128/mBio.02260-15.

Reduction of Streptococcus pneumoniae Colonization and Dissemination by a Nonopsonic Capsular Polysaccharide Antibody.

Doyle CR1, Pirofski LA2.

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Streptococcus pneumoniae colonization of the nasopharynx (NP) is a prerequisite for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). The marked reduction in IPD that followed the routine use of pneumococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccines (PCVs) has been linked to reduced NP colonization with vaccine-included serotypes (STs), with the caveat that PCVs are less effective against pneumonia than against IPD. Although PCV-elicited opsonic antibodies that enhance phagocytic killing of the homologous ST are considered a key correlate of PCV-mediated protection, recent studies question this relationship for some STs, including ST3. Studies with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to the pneumococcal capsular polysaccharide (PPS) of ST3 (PPS3) have shown that nonopsonic, as well as opsonic, antibodies can each protect mice against pneumonia and sepsis, but the effect of these types of MAbs on NP colonization is unknown. In this study, we determined the effects of protective opsonic and nonopsonic PPS3 MAbs on ST3 NP colonization in mice. Our results show that a nonopsonic MAb reduced early NP colonization and prevented ST3 dissemination to the lungs and blood, but an opsonic MAb did not. Moreover, the opsonic MAb induced a proinflammatory NP cytokine response, but the nonopsonic MAb had an antiinflammatory effect. The effect of the nonopsonic MAb on colonization did not require its Fc region, but its antiinflammatory effect did. Our findings challenge the paradigm that opsonic MAbs are required to prevent NP colonization and suggest that further studies of the activity of nonopsonic antibodies could advance our understanding of mechanisms of PCV efficacy and provide novel correlates of protection.


Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) have markedly reduced the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). Vaccine-elicited pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPS) antibodies that enhance in vitro phagocyte killing of vaccine-included serotypes (STs) (opsonic antibodies) have been considered correlates of vaccine protection and are thought to exert their effect at the initial site of infection, the nasopharynx (NP). However, the data presented here show that this is not the necessarily the case. A nonopsonic PPS monoclonal antibody (MAb) reduced pneumococcal colonization and dissemination of its homologous ST in mice, but surprisingly, an opsonic PPS MAb to the same ST did not. These results reveal that PPS antibodies can work in different ways than previously thought, challenge the paradigm that opsonic antibodies are required to prevent IPD, and provide new insights into PCV efficacy that could lead to novel correlates of vaccine protection.

Copyright © 2016 Doyle and Pirofski.

PMID: 26838726 [PubMed - in process]