Demonstration of circulating group B streptococcal immune complexes in neonates with meningitis

J Clin Microbiol. 1994 Sep;32(9):2041-5. doi: 10.1128/jcm.32.9.2041-2045.1994.


Group B streptococci are the major cause of sepsis and fatal shock in neonates in the United States. Although a number of clinical features have been associated with enhanced severity of disease, the role of soluble immune complex formation in group B streptococcal infection has not been evaluated. We determined the frequency with which circulating immune complexes occurred in 16 infants with nonfatal type III, group B streptococcal meningitis, using an immunoglobulin-specific C1q enzyme immunoassay. Ten healthy, age-matched infants served as a control group. Elevated levels of immunoglobulin M (IgM)-containing immune complexes were present in the sera of four (25%) patients with group B streptococcal meningitis. Group B antigen was detected in precipitated IgM immune complexes from each of these four infants by competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In addition, IgG-containing immune complexes were present in 56% of sick and 60% of control infants. Group B antigen was demonstrated in the serum of a sick neonate containing only IgG immune complexes but not in controls. Our findings indicate that a subset of infants with type III, group B streptococcal meningitis develop IgM immune complexes containing group B-specific antigen, and these may persist for up to 3 months in some patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / blood*
  • Antigens, Bacterial / blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / blood
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Streptococcal Infections / blood
  • Streptococcal Infections / immunology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin M