Emergent hypermucoviscosity (HMV) phenotypes of Klebsiella pneumoniae have been associated with increased invasiveness and pathogenicity in primates. In this study, we investigated the interaction of African green monkeys (AGM) (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) complement and antibody with HMV and non-HMV isolates as in vitro models of primate infection. Significantly greater survival of HMV isolates was evident after incubation in normal serum or whole blood (p < 0.05) of AGM donors when compared to non-HMV strains. Greater survival of HMV strains (p < 0.05) was found after incubation in whole blood and serum from seropositive donors when compared to seronegative donor samples. Additionally, significantly greater amounts of K. pneumoniae were phagocytozed by AGM leukocytes when complement was active (p < 0.05), but no difference in uptake was observed when serum from seropositive or seronegative animals was used in challenged cells utilizing flow cytometry. Results demonstrate that interaction of cellular and humoral immune elements play a role in the in vitro killing of K. pneumoniae, particularly HMV isolates. Neither AGM serum, nor washed whole blood effectively killed HMV isolates; however, assays using heparinized whole blood of seronegative donors significantly reduced viability of HMV and non-HMV strains. The lack of bacterial killing observed in seropositive donors treatments could be at least partially associated with low IgG2 present in these animals. A better understanding of the pathogenesis of klebsiellosis in primates and host immune response is necessary to identify surface molecules that can induce both opsonizing and bactericidal antibody facilitating killing of Klebsiella, and the development of vaccines in human and animals.
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