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Streptococcus pneumoniae Transmission Is Blocked by Type-Specific Immunity in an Infant Mouse Model

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      Epidemiological studies on Streptococcus pneumoniae show that rates of carriage are highest in early childhood and that the major benefit of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is a reduction in the incidence of nasopharyngeal colonization through decreased transmission within a population. In this study, we sought to understand how anti- S. pneumoniae immunity affects nasal shedding of bacteria, the limiting step in experimental pneumococcal transmission. Using an infant mouse model, we examined the role of immunity (passed from mother to pup) on shedding and within-litter transmission of S. pneumoniae by pups infected at 4 days of life. Pups from both previously colonized immune and PCV-vaccinated mothers had higher levels of anti- S. pneumoniae IgG than pups from non-immune or non-vaccinated mothers and shed significantly fewer S. pneumoniae over the first 5 days of infection. By setting up cross-foster experiments, we demonstrated that maternal passage of antibody to pups either in utero or post-natally decreases S. pneumoniae shedding. Passive immunization experiments showed that type-specific antibody to capsular polysaccharide is sufficient to decrease shedding and that the agglutinating function of immunoglobulin is required for this effect. Finally, we established that anti-pneumococcal immunity and anti-PCV vaccination block host-to-host transmission of S. pneumoniae. Moreover, immunity in either the donor or recipient pups alone was sufficient to reduce rates of transmission, indicating that decreased shedding and protection from acquisition of colonization are both contributing factors. Our findings provide a mechanistic explanation for the reduced levels of S. pneumoniae transmission between hosts immune from prior exposure and among vaccinated children.


      Rates of carriage of the bacterial pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae are highest among young children, and this is the target group for the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). Epidemiological studies have suggested that a major benefit of the PCV is a reduction in host-to-host transmission, which also protects the non-vaccinated population (“herd immunity”). In this study, we examined the role of anti-pneumococcal immunity on nasal shedding and transmission of the pathogen using an infant mouse model. We found that shedding is decreased and transmission is blocked by anti-pneumococcal immunity and PCV vaccination. Additionally, transmission rates decreased if either the infected or contact pups were immune, indicating that reduced shedding and protection from the establishment of colonization are both contributing factors. Our study provides a mechanistic explanation for the herd immunity effect seen after the introduction of PCV and identifies potential points of intervention, which may have implications for future vaccine development.

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      Burden of disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in children younger than 5 years: global estimates.

      Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis in children worldwide. However, many countries lack national estimates of disease burden. Effective interventions are available, including pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and case management. To support local and global policy decisions on pneumococcal disease prevention and treatment, we estimated country-specific incidence of serious cases and deaths in children younger than 5 years. We measured the burden of pneumococcal pneumonia by applying the proportion of pneumonia cases caused by S pneumoniae derived from efficacy estimates from vaccine trials to WHO country-specific estimates of all-cause pneumonia cases and deaths. We also estimated burden of meningitis and non-pneumonia, non-meningitis invasive disease using disease incidence and case-fatality data from a systematic literature review. When high-quality data were available from a country, these were used for national estimates. Otherwise, estimates were based on data from neighbouring countries with similar child mortality. Estimates were adjusted for HIV prevalence and access to care and, when applicable, use of vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type b. In 2000, about 14.5 million episodes of serious pneumococcal disease (uncertainty range 11.1-18.0 million) were estimated to occur. Pneumococcal disease caused about 826,000 deaths (582,000-926,000) in children aged 1-59 months, of which 91,000 (63,000-102,000) were in HIV-positive and 735,000 (519,000-825,000) in HIV-negative children. Of the deaths in HIV-negative children, over 61% (449,000 [316,000-501,000]) occurred in ten African and Asian countries. S pneumoniae causes around 11% (8-12%) of all deaths in children aged 1-59 months (excluding pneumococcal deaths in HIV-positive children). Achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goal 4 for child mortality reduction can be accelerated by prevention and treatment of pneumococcal disease, especially in regions of the world with the greatest burden. GAVI Alliance and the Vaccine Fund.
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        Streptococcus pneumoniae colonisation: the key to pneumococcal disease.

        Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important pathogen causing invasive diseases such as sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia. The burden of disease is highest in the youngest and oldest sections of the population in both more and less developed countries. The treatment of pneumococcal infections is complicated by the worldwide emergence in pneumococci of resistance to penicillin and other antibiotics. Pneumococcal disease is preceded by asymptomatic colonisation, which is especially high in children. The current seven-valent conjugate vaccine is highly effective against invasive disease caused by the vaccine-type strains. However, vaccine coverage is limited, and replacement by non-vaccine serotypes resulting in disease is a serious threat for the near future. Therefore, the search for new vaccine candidates that elicit protection against a broader range of pneumococcal strains is important. Several surface-associated protein vaccines are currently under investigation. Another important issue is whether the aim should be to prevent pneumococcal disease by eradication of nasopharyngeal colonisation, or to prevent bacterial invasion leaving colonisation relatively unaffected and hence preventing the occurrence of replacement colonisation and disease. To illustrate the importance of pneumococcal colonisation in relation to pneumococcal disease and prevention of disease, we discuss the mechanism and epidemiology of colonisation, the complexity of relations within and between species, and the consequences of the different preventive strategies for pneumococcal colonisation.
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          Decline in invasive pneumococcal disease after the introduction of protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccine.

          In early 2000, a protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccine targeting seven pneumococcal serotypes was licensed in the United States for use in young children. We examined population-based data from the Active Bacterial Core Surveillance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate changes in the burden of invasive disease, defined by isolation of Streptococcus pneumoniae from a normally sterile site. Serotyping and susceptibility testing of isolates were performed. We assessed trends using data from seven geographic areas with continuous participation from 1998 through 2001 (population, 16 million). The rate of invasive disease dropped from an average of 24.3 cases per 100,000 persons in 1998 and 1999 to 17.3 per 100,000 in 2001. The largest decline was in children under two years of age. In this group, the rate of disease was 69 percent lower in 2001 than the base-line rate (59.0 cases per 100,000 vs. 188.0 per 100,000, P<0.001); the rate of disease caused by vaccine and vaccine-related serotypes declined by 78 percent (P<0.001) and 50 percent (P<0.001), respectively. Disease rates also fell for adults; as compared with base line, the rate of disease in 2001 was 32 percent lower for adults 20 to 39 years of age (7.6 cases per 100,000 vs. 11.2 per 100,000, P<0.001), 8 percent lower for those 40 to 64 years of age (19.7 per 100,000 vs. 21.5 per 100,000, P=0.03), and 18 percent lower for those 65 years of age or more (49.5 per 100,000 vs. 60.1 per 100,000, P<0.001). The rate of disease caused by strains that were not susceptible to penicillin was 35 percent lower in 2001 than in 1999 (4.1 cases per 100,000 vs. 6.3 per 100,000, P<0.001). The use of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is preventing disease in young children, for whom the vaccine is indicated, and may be reducing the rate of disease in adults. The vaccine provides an effective new tool for reducing disease caused by drug-resistant strains. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society

            Author and article information

            [a ]Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
            [b ]School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
            University of Mississippi Medical Center
            Author notes
            Address correspondence to Jeffrey N. Weiser, jeffrey.weiser@ .

            This article is a direct contribution from a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. External solicited reviewers: Liise-anne Pirofski, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Birgitta Henriques-Normark, Karolinska Institutet.

            Role: Editor,
            University of Mississippi Medical Center
            American Society for Microbiology (1752 N St., N.W., Washington, DC )
            14 March 2017
            Mar-Apr 2017
            : 8
            : 2
            28292980 5350464 mBio00188-17 10.1128/mBio.00188-17
            Copyright © 2017 Zangari et al.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

            Figures: 4, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 29, Pages: 12, Words: 7270
            Funded by: HHS | U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)
            Award ID: AI038446
            Award ID: AI105168
            Award Recipient : Jeffrey N. Weiser
            Research Article
            Custom metadata
            March/April 2017

            Life sciences

            transmission, pcv, streptococcus pneumoniae, immunity


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