Standardization of an opsonophagocytic assay for the measurement of functional antibody activity against Streptococcus pneumoniae using differentiated HL-60 cells

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1997 Jul;4(4):415-22.


Host protection against pneumococcal disease i primarily mediated by phagocytosis. We developed and standardized an opsonophagocytic assay using HL-60 cells (human promyelocytic leukemia cells). Fifty-five serum samples were analyzed for the presence of functional antibody against seven pneumococcal serogroups or serotypes (4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F) by using differentiated HL-60 cells (granulocytes) and peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs). Six of the 55 serum samples were from unvaccinated adult volunteers, 31 serum samples were from adults who received one dose of the 14-valent or the 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine, and 18 serum samples were from 16-month-old infants who received four doses of an investigational 7-valent polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccine. The results of an opsonophagocytic assay with HL-60 cells correlated highly with those of an assay with PBLs as effector cells (median r for seven serotypes = 0.87: P < 0.01). Opsonophagocytic titers were compared with the immunoglobulin G antibody concentrations determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The r values for serogroups or serotypes 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F were 0.61, 0.60, 0.67 0.90, 0.61, 0.39, and 0.57, respectively, when HL-60 cells were used as effector cells and 0.56, 0.47, 0.61, 0.90, 0.71, 0.31, and 0.62, respectively, when PBLs were used. The assay requires small amounts of serum (40 microliters per serotype), making this test suitable for assaying infant sera. Culturable cells aid in assay standardization and likely reduce donor-to-donor variability. This standardized assay, in combination with the standardized ELISA, can be used to evaluate current and developing pneumococcal vaccines, in which functional opsonophagocytic antibody activity may correlate with protection against pneumococcal disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antibodies, Bacterial*
  • Binding, Competitive / immunology
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • HL-60 Cells / chemistry
  • HL-60 Cells / immunology
  • HL-60 Cells / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / administration & dosage
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Middle Aged
  • Opsonin Proteins / immunology*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / diagnosis*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / immunology*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / therapy
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Opsonin Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Complement System Proteins