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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2003 Mar;10(2):246-51.

Inhibition of pneumococcal adherence to human nasopharyngeal epithelial cells by anti-PsaA antibodies.

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Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


The role of pneumococcal (Pnc) surface adhesin A (PsaA) in the adherence of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) to host cells is not well defined. We examined the effect of anti-PsaA antibodies in an inhibition of adherence assay using Detroit 562 nasopharyngeal human epithelial cells. Rabbit polyclonal (Pab) anti-recombinant PsaA (rPsaA) sera, a purified mouse monoclonal antibody (MAb) (MAb 6F62G8E12), and 22 healthy adult sera with known anti-PsaA IgG levels (obtained by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) were evaluated for their abilities to inhibit Pnc adherence to confluent monolayers (measured as percent reduction in CFU counts compared to those of uninhibited controls). Pnc adherence was dependent on capsular phenotype (no or low adherence for opaque strains). With an inoculum of 10(4) to 10(5) bacteria/well, the mean +/- standard deviation count in controls was 163 +/- 32 CFU/well for transparent strains. Low adherence was observed for a PsaA-minus mutant even at higher inoculum doses. Mean percent inhibitions of adherence with Pab and MAb were 54 and 50%, respectively. Adult sera showed inhibition in a dose-response fashion with a range of 98 to 8%, depending on the serum anti-PsaA antibody concentration. Absorption of Pab with rPsaA restored Pnc adherence to control levels. Absorption of sera with a PsaA-minus mutant did not result in a significant decrease (P >0.05) of inhibition of adherence activity. Additionally, nearly 100% of Pnc adherence was inhibited by lipidated rPsaA at 2.5 micro g/ml. Our data support the argument that PsaA is an adhesin that mediates Pnc adherence to human nasopharyngeal cells. This functional assay may be useful in evaluating antibodies elicited in response to PsaA vaccination.

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