Polysaccharide-Specific Memory B Cells Predict Protection against Experimental Human Pneumococcal Carriage.
Pennington SH., Pojar S., Mitsi E., Gritzfeld JF., Nikolaou E., Solórzano C., Owugha JT., Masood Q., Gordon MA., Wright AD., Collins AM., Miyaji EN., Gordon SB., Ferreira DM.
RATIONALE: We have previously demonstrated that experimental pneumococcal carriage enhances immunity and protects healthy adults against carriage reacquisition after rechallenge with a homologous strain. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the role of naturally acquired pneumococcal protein and polysaccharide (PS)-specific immunity in protection against carriage acquisition using a heterologous challenge model. METHODS: We identified healthy volunteers that were naturally colonized with pneumococcus and, after clearance of their natural carriage episode, challenged them with a heterologous 6B strain. In another cohort of volunteers we assessed 6BPS-specific, PspA-specific, and PspC-specific IgG and IgA plasma and memory B-cell populations before and 7, 14, and 35 days after experimental pneumococcal inoculation. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Heterologous challenge with 6B resulted in 50% carriage among volunteers with previous natural pneumococcal carriage. Protection from carriage was associated with a high number of circulating 6BPS IgG-secreting memory B cells at baseline. There were no associations between protection from carriage and baseline levels of 6BPS IgG in serum or nasal wash, PspA-specific, or PspC-specific memory B cells or plasma cells. In volunteers who did not develop carriage, the number of circulating 6BPS memory B cells decreased and the number of 6BPS plasma cells increased postinoculation. CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that naturally acquired PS-specific memory B cells, but not levels of circulating IgG at time of pneumococcal exposure, are associated with protection against carriage acquisition.