Streptococcus pneumoniae persists as a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia despite the widespread use of polysaccharide-based vaccines. The limited serotype coverage of current vaccines has led to increased incidence of nonvaccine serotypes, as well as an increase in antibiotic resistance among these serotypes. Pneumococcal infection often follows a primary viral infection such as influenza virus, which hinders host defense and results in bacterial spread to the lungs. We previously isolated human monoclonal Abs (mAbs) against the conserved surface Ag pneumococcal histidine triad protein D (PhtD), and we demonstrated that mAbs to this Ag are protective against lethal pneumococcal challenge prophylactically and therapeutically. In this study, we elucidated the mechanism of protection of a protective anti-pneumococcal human mAb, PhtD3, which is mediated by the presence of complement and macrophages in a mouse model of pneumococcal infection. Treatment with mAb PhtD3 reduced blood and lung bacterial burden in mice, and mAb PhtD3 is able to bind to bacteria in the presence of the capsular polysaccharide, indicating exposure of surface PhtD on encapsulated bacteria. In a mouse model of secondary pneumococcal infection, protection mediated by mAb PhtD3 and another mAb targeting a different epitope, PhtD7, was reduced; however, robust protection was restored by combining mAb PhtD3 with mAb PhtD7, indicating a synergistic effect. Overall, these studies provide new insights into anti-pneumococcal mAb protection and demonstrate, to our knowledge, for the first time, that mAbs to pneumococcal surface proteins can protect against secondary pneumococcal infection in the mouse model.

This work was supported by the American Lung Association Innovation Award IA-835950 (to J.J.M.) and by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director Grant K01OD026569 (J.J.M.). J.E.V. is supported in part by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Grant 1R21AI151571-01A1. F.R. was supported by NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences Grant GM109435, Post-Baccalaureate Training in Infectious Diseases Research.

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