Antibody to the type 3 capsule facilitates immune adherence of pneumococci to erythrocytes and augments their transfer to macrophages

Academic Article


  • Streptococcus pneumoniae has been shown to bind to erythrocytes via a process called immune adherence. This adherence and the subsequent transfer of pneumococci from erythrocytes to macrophages are both dependent on complement C3 deposition onto the pneumococcal surface. The observation that anti-capsule antibody increases C3 deposition on the pneumococcal capsule indicated that anti-capsule antibody may also facilitate the clearance of pneumococci through immune adherence. Using pneumococcal strain WU2 (capsule type 3) and its nonencapsulated mutant JD908, we found that monoclonal antibody (MAb) to type 3 capsule increases complement C3, C1q, and C4 deposition on WU2 and enhanced the immune adherence of WU2 to erythrocytes. The MAb to type 3 capsule also enhanced the transfer of WU2 from erythrocytes to macrophages. Moreover, the transfer reaction was inhibited by preincubating macrophages with anti-CR3 or anti-FcγRIII/II MAb, indicating that CR3 and FcγRIII/II on macrophages mediate this process. The transfer reactions of JD908 (opsonized with complement) and WU2 (opsonized with complement plus MAb to type 3 capsule) were similarly inhibited by anti-CR3 MAb, but only the latter was inhibited by anti-FcγRIII/II MAb. This finding indicates that although complement and the macrophage receptor CR3 are essential for the transfer reaction, if antibody is present it can further enhance the transfer reaction through a process dependent on FcγRIII/II. Using pre- and postvaccination sera of people immunized with the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, we confirmed that human anti-capsule antibodies are also able to increase the immune adherence of pneumococci and their transfer to macrophages. Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Li J; Szalai AJ; Hollingshead SK; Nahm MH; Briles DE
  • Start Page

  • 464
  • End Page

  • 471
  • Volume

  • 77
  • Issue

  • 1