, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 927-934
Date: 08 Jun 2013

Asthma and antibodies to pneumococcal virulence proteins

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We previously reported that asthmatics had lower anti-serotype-specific pneumococcal polysaccharide antibody levels than non-asthmatics, and the T-helper 2 (Th2) immune profile was associated with suboptimal pneumococcal polysaccharide antibody. Our objective was to determine the influence of asthma status on anti-pneumococcal protein antigen antibody levels.


We conducted a cross-sectional study, which enrolled 16 children and adults with asthma and 14 subjects without asthma. Asthma was ascertained by predetermined criteria. Serum IgG antibody levels to pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA), pneumococcal surface protein C (PspC), pneumococcal choline-binding protein A (PcpA), and pneumolysin (PLY) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). These antibody levels were compared between asthmatics and non-asthmatics. The Th2 immune profile was determined by IL-5 secretion from PBMCs cultured with house dust mite (HDM) and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) at day 7. The correlation between the anti-pneumococcal antibody levels and the Th2-HDM and SEB-responsive immune profile was assessed.


Of the 30 subjects, 16 (53 %) were male and the median age was 26 years. There were no significant differences in anti-PspA, anti-PspC, anti-PcpA, and anti-PLY antibody levels between asthmatics and non-asthmatics. The Th2 immune profile was inversely correlated with the anti-PspC antibody levels (r = −0.53, p = 0.003). This correlation was significantly modified by asthma status (r = −0.74, p = 0.001 for asthmatics vs. r = −0.06, p = 0.83 for non-asthmatics). Other pneumococcal protein antibodies were not correlated with the Th2 immune profile.


No significant differences in the anti-pneumococcal protein antigen antibody levels between asthmatics and non-asthmatics were found. Asthma status is an important effect modifier determining the negative influence of the Th2 immune profile on anti-PspC antibody levels.