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Behring Inst Mitt. 1997 Feb;(98):350-60.

Rationale for development of immunotherapies that target mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in cystic fibrosis patients.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115 5899, USA.


Despite a complex sputum bacteriology, the progressive decline in pulmonary function that is the hallmark of the genetic disease cystic fibrosis (CF) is attributable to a single infecting pathogen, mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Therefore, active and passive immunotherapies that target this particular variant of the bacterium should be of value in attenuating infection and interfering with the decline in pulmonary function. The major surface antigen of mucoid P. aeruginosa is referred to as either mucoid exopolysaccharide (MEP) or alginate, a random polymer of D-mannuronic and L-guluronic acid residues linked beta 1-4. During chronic infection CF patients make antibodies to MEP that fail to mediate opsonic killing of bacteria in vitro. These antibodies can be elicited by vaccination in 35-40% of plasma donors given a preparation of MEP comprised of only the highest molecular-weight polymers; inclusion in human vaccines of smaller polymers normally produced by the bacterium fails to elicit opsonic antibodies, just like in infected CF patients. Opsonic, but not non-opsonic, antibodies to MEP protect animals against chronic endobronchial infection. CF patients do produce opsonic antibodies to mucoid P. aeruginosa that are in a planktonic or suspended state, but these antibodies are not directed at the MEP antigen and they fail to kill P. aeruginosa growing in a biofilm. This is the state that the bacteria grow in the lung. Therefore immunoglobulin G preparations with opsonic antibodies to MEP could provide CF patients with antibodies that they normally do not produce during chronic lung infection and may improve their clinical course.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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