Pneumococci cause infection by colonizing the nasopharynx and invading the mucosal surfaces. Infection models in mice, where the natural route of infection is mimicked, may be useful to study antibody mediated protection against pneumococcal pneumonia and bacteremia. We have established a pneumococcal pneumonia and bacteremia model in mice and investigated the protective capacity of human antibodies. Intranasal challenge with serotypes 1, 3, 6A and 8 caused lung infection and bacteremia which was lethal. Serotype 6B caused low, but detectable, infection and other serotypes tested were not virulent. Passive immunization with a human IgG preparation i.p. protected mice in a dose dependent manner against bacteremia caused by the virulent serotypes (except serotype 3) and partially or completely cleared pneumococci from the lungs of mice infected with serotypes 1, 6A and 8. Adsorption of antibodies with homologous capsular polysaccharides eliminated protection against disease but adsorption with cell wall polysaccharides (CWPS) did not. Furthermore, a good correlation was observed between protection of sera in vivo and opsonic activity in vitro. The results indicate that the model may be useful to analyse the levels, isotypes, specificity and other characteristics of human antibodies which protect against pneumococcal infection and to evaluate the protective potential of pneumococcal vaccine candidates.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.