OPEN mBio | 24 Mar 2016
LE Keller, DA Robinson and LS McDaniel
While significant protection from pneumococcal disease has been achieved by the use of polysaccharide and polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines, capsule-independent protection has been limited by serotype replacement along with disease caused by nonencapsulatedStreptococcus pneumoniae(NESp). NESp strains compose approximately 3% to 19% of asymptomatic carriage isolates and harbor multiple antibiotic resistance genes. Surface proteins unique to NESp enhance colonization and virulence despite the lack of a capsule even though the capsule has been thought to be required for pneumococcal pathogenesis. Genes for pneumococcal surface proteins replace the capsular polysaccharide (cps) locus in some NESp isolates, and these proteins aid in pneumococcal colonization and otitis media (OM). NESp strains have been isolated from patients with invasive and noninvasive pneumococcal disease, but noninvasive diseases, specifically, conjunctivitis (85%) and OM (8%), are of higher prevalence. Conjunctival strains are commonly of the so-called classical NESp lineages defined by multilocus sequence types (STs) ST344 and ST448, while sporadic NESp lineages such as ST1106 are more commonly isolated from patients with other diseases. Interestingly, sporadic lineages have significantly higher rates of recombination than classical lineages. Higher rates of recombination can lead to increased acquisition of antibiotic resistance and virulence factors, increasing the risk of disease and hindering treatment. NESp strains are a significant proportion of the pneumococcal population, can cause disease, and may be increasing in prevalence in the population due to effects on the pneumococcal niche caused by pneumococcal vaccines. Current vaccines are ineffective against NESp, and further research is necessary to develop vaccines effective against both encapsulated and nonencapsulated pneumococci.
* Data courtesy of Altmetric.com