Nasopharyngeal Exposure to Streptococcus pneumoniae Induces Extended Age-Dependent Protection against Pulmonary Infection Mediated by Antibodies and CD138(+) Cells

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems

Publication Date


Document Type



Immunology and Infectious Disease | Microbiology


Streptococcus pneumoniae commonly resides asymptomatically in the nasopharyngeal (NP) cavity of healthy individuals but can cause life-threatening pulmonary and systemic infections, particularly in the elderly. NP colonization results in a robust immune response that protects against invasive infections. However, the duration, mechanism, and cellular component of such responses are poorly understood. In this study, we found that repeated NP exposure of mice to S. pneumoniae TIGR4 strain results in pneumococcal-specific Ab responses that protect against lethal lung challenge. Abs were necessary and sufficient for protection because Ab-deficient muMT mice did not develop postexposure protection, only becoming resistant to lung infection after transfer of immune sera from NP-exposed mice. T cells contributed to immunity at the time of NP exposure, but neither CD4(+) nor CD8(+) T cells were required. The protective activity was detectable 20 wk after exposure and was maintained in irradiated mice, suggesting involvement of long-lived Ab-secreting cells (ASC), which are radioresistant and secrete Abs for extended periods of time in the absence of T cells or persistent Ag. CD138(+) bone marrow cells, likely corresponding to long-lived ASC, were sufficient to confer protection. NP exposure of aged mice failed to protect against subsequent lung infection despite eliciting a robust Ab response. Furthermore, transfer of CD138(+) bone marrow cells or sera from NP-exposed old mice failed to protect naive young mice. These findings suggest that NP exposure elicits extended protection against pneumococcal lung infection by generating long-lived CD138(+) ASC and that the protective efficacy of these responses declines with age.

DOI of Published Version



J Immunol. 2018 Jun 1;200(11):3739-3751. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701065. Epub 2018 Apr 16. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID