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J Immunol. 1976 Feb;116(2):367-70.

The role of the capsular polysaccharide in the activation of the alternative pathway by the pneumococcus.

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that when pneumococci are incubated in normal, nonimmune serum, they activate the alternative pathway and opsonically active C3b is fixed to the surface of the organism. Other studies have demonstrated that C3-dependent opsonization via the alternative pathway plays a significant role in the nonimmune host's defense against the pneumococcus. The present studies concern the role of the capsular polysaccharide in initiating the activation of the alternative pathway by the pneumococcus. Some pneumococcal capsular polysaccharide types, but not all, are able to activate the alternative pathway. Soluble purified capsular polysaccharide types 1, 4 and 25 activate the alternative pathway, whereas types 2, 3, 14, and 19 do not. Since the capsular polysaccharides exist in their native form attached to the pneumococcal surface, selected capsular polysaccharides were also tested for their ability to activate the alternative pathway when attached to a particulate carrier, sheep erythrocytes. Capsular polysaccharide types 2 and 3 failed to activate the alternative pathway when attached to sheep erythrocytes, paralleling the results obtained when these capsular polysaccharides were in solution. In contrast, the type 25 capsular polysaccharide not only activated the alternative pathway when attached to sheep erythrocytes, as it had when in solution, but it also initiated alternative pathway-mediated lysis of the erythrocytes. The capsular polysaccharide is not required for the activation of the alternative pathway by the pneumococcus. Although all types of encapsulated pneumococci are able to activate the alternative pathway, not all the purified capsular polysaccharide types are able to do so. In addition, a nonencapsulated pneumococcus, derived originally from a type 2 organism, activates the alternative pathway as well as a fully encapsulated type 2 pneumococcus.

PMID:
2634
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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