The efficacy of antibody immunity against Streptococcus pneumoniae stems from the ability of opsonic, serotype (ST)-specific antibodies to pneumococcal capsular polysaccharide (PPS) to facilitate killing of the homologous ST by host phagocytes. However, PPS-specific antibodies have been identified that are protective in mice, but do not promote opsonic killing in vitro, raising the question of how they mediate protection in vivo. To probe this question, we investigated the dependence of antibody efficacy against lethal systemic (intraperitoneal, i.p.) infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 3 (ST3) on macrophages and neutrophils for the following PPS3-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) in survival experiments in mice using a non-opsonic human IgM (A7), a non-opsonic mouse IgG1 (1E2) and an opsonic mouse IgG1 (5F6). The survival of A7- and PPS3-specific and isotype control MAb-treated neutrophil-depleted and neutrophil-sufficient and macrophage-depleted and macrophage-sufficient mice were determined after i.p. challenge with ST3 strains 6303 and WU2. Neutrophils were dispensable for A7 and the mouse MAbs to mediate protection in this model, but macrophages were required for the efficacy of A7 and optimal mouse MAb-mediated protection. For A7-treated mice, macrophage-depleted mice had higher blood CFU, cytokines and peripheral neutrophil levels than macrophage-sufficient mice, and macrophage-sufficient mice had lower tissue bacterial burdens than control MAb-treated mice. These findings demonstrate that macrophages contribute to opsonic and non-opsonic PPS3-specific MAb-mediated protection against ST3 infection by enhancing bacterial clearance and suggest that neutrophils do not compensate for the absence of macrophages in the model used in this study.
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