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J Mol Med (Berl). 2010 Feb;88(2):135-42. doi: 10.1007/s00109-009-0579-4. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Antibody and cell-mediated immunity to Streptococcus pneumoniae: implications for vaccine development.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


It has long been assumed that children develop natural immunity to pneumococci via the acquisition of anticapsular antibodies, which confers serotype-specific immunity to the organism. This view has been further reinforced by the recent success of capsular polysaccharide conjugate vaccines in children in reducing colonization and disease caused by vaccine-type strains. Less clear, however, is whether this mechanism is responsible for the age-related gradual increased resistance to pneumococcal carriage and disease. Recent epidemiologic and experimental evidence point to the possibility that another mechanism may be involved. Here, an alternative possibility is presented, whereby it is proposed that acquired immunity to this common human pathogen is derived not only from natural acquisition of antibodies (capsular and noncapsular) that provides protection against invasive disease but also from the development of pneumococcus-specific CD4+ T(H)17 cells that reduces the duration of carriage and may also impact mucosal disease. This review focuses on the experimental and clinical evidence in support of this hypothesis. The implications for future vaccine development against Streptococcus pneumoniae are also discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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