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Concept: Pneumococcal infection


Pneumococcal infection in children is a major public health problem worldwide, including in Japan. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 7 (PCV7) was licensed for use in Japan in 2010 followed by PCV13 in 2013. This report includes the results of a nationwide surveillance of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) and non-IPD in paediatric patients from January 2012 to December 2014. We collected 343 isolates from 337 IPD patients and 286 isolates from 278 non-IPD patients. Of the IPD isolates, the most identified serotypes included 19A, 24F, and 15A. The prevalence of non-PCV13 serotype isolates increased significantly from 2012 to 2014 (51.6-71.4%, p=0.004). Serotypes 19A, 15A and 35B were highly non-susceptible to penicillin, and the rates of non-susceptible isolates from IPD patients to penicillin and cefotaxime significantly declined during the study period (p=0.029 and p=0.013, respectively). The non-susceptible rate to meropenem increased, particularly for serotype 15A. The IPD isolates comprised clonal complex (CC) 3111 (93.8% was serotype 19A) followed by CC2572 (81.5% was serotype 24F) and CC63 (97.1% was serotype 15A). CC3111, CC63 and CC156 (33.3% was serotype 23A, 28.6% was serotype 6B, and 14.3% was serotype 19A) were highly non-susceptible to penicillin. Of the non-IPD isolates, the most identified serotypes included 19A, 15A, and 3. In conclusion, the introduction of PCV7 and PCV13 resulted in increasing non-PCV13 serotypes and clones, including antimicrobial resistant serotypes 15A and CC63 (Sweden(15A)-25 clone).

Concepts: Microbiology, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine, Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine


Streptococcus pneumoniae has a complex relationship with its obligate human host. On the one hand, the pneumococci are highly adapted commensals, and their main reservoir on the mucosal surface of the upper airways of carriers enables transmission. On the other hand, they can cause severe disease when bacterial and host factors allow them to invade essentially sterile sites, such as the middle ear spaces, lungs, bloodstream and meninges. Transmission, colonization and invasion depend on the remarkable ability of S. pneumoniae to evade or take advantage of the host inflammatory and immune responses. The different stages of pneumococcal carriage and disease have been investigated in detail in animal models and, more recently, in experimental human infection. Furthermore, widespread vaccination and the resulting immune pressure have shed light on pneumococcal population dynamics and pathogenesis. Here, we review the mechanistic insights provided by these studies on the multiple and varied interactions of the pneumococcus and its host.

Concepts: Immune system, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Otitis media, Meningitis


: Nasopharyngeal (NP) carriage and invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) attributable to serotypes in the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) declined dramatically after vaccine introduction, whereas non-PCV7 serotypes increased modestly. Characteristics of pneumococcal carriage and IPD among children in Atlanta, GA, were compared during 2 time periods: before PCV7 introduction and before 13-valent PCV (PCV13) introduction.

Concepts: Microbiology, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Vaccine, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine, Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine


Streptococcus pneumoniae is the main cause of bacterial meningitis, a life-threating disease with a high case fatality rate despite treatment with antibiotics. Pneumococci cause meningitis by invading the blood and penetrating the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Using stimulated emission depletion (STED) super-resolution microscopy of brain biopsies from patients who died of pneumococcal meningitis, we observe that pneumococci colocalize with the two BBB endothelial receptors: polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) and platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM-1). We show that the major adhesin of the pneumococcal pilus-1, RrgA, binds both receptors, whereas the choline binding protein PspC binds, but to a lower extent, only pIgR. Using a bacteremia-derived meningitis model and mutant mice, as well as antibodies against the two receptors, we prevent pneumococcal entry into the brain and meningitis development. By adding antibodies to antibiotic (ceftriaxone)-treated mice, we further reduce the bacterial burden in the brain. Our data suggest that inhibition of pIgR and PECAM-1 has the potential to prevent pneumococcal meningitis.

Concepts: Protein, Bacteria, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal infection, Cerebrospinal fluid, Meningitis


Vaccine-serotype (VT) invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) rates declined substantially following introduction of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) into national immunization programs. Increases in non-vaccine-serotype (NVT) IPD rates occurred in some sites, presumably representing serotype replacement. We used a standardized approach to describe serotype-specific IPD changes among multiple sites after PCV7 introduction.

Concepts: Microbiology, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Vaccine, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine, Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine


Streptococcus pneumoniae accounts for more deaths worldwide than any other single pathogen through diverse disease manifestations including pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis. Life-threatening acute cardiac complications are more common in pneumococcal infection compared to other bacterial infections. Distinctively, these arise despite effective antibiotic therapy. Here, we describe a novel mechanism of myocardial injury, which is triggered and sustained by circulating pneumolysin (PLY). Using a mouse model of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), we demonstrate that wild type PLY-expressing pneumococci but not PLY-deficient mutants induced elevation of circulating cardiac troponins (cTns), well-recognized biomarkers of cardiac injury. Furthermore, elevated cTn levels linearly correlated with pneumococcal blood counts (r=0.688, p=0.001) and levels were significantly higher in non-surviving than in surviving mice. These cTn levels were significantly reduced by administration of PLY-sequestering liposomes. Intravenous injection of purified PLY, but not a non-pore forming mutant (PdB), induced substantial increase in cardiac troponins to suggest that the pore-forming activity of circulating PLY is essential for myocardial injury in vivo. Purified PLY and PLY-expressing pneumococci also caused myocardial inflammatory changes but apoptosis was not detected. Exposure of cultured cardiomyocytes to PLY-expressing pneumococci caused dose-dependent cardiomyocyte contractile dysfunction and death, which was exacerbated by further PLY release following antibiotic treatment. We found that high PLY doses induced extensive cardiomyocyte lysis, but more interestingly, sub-lytic PLY concentrations triggered profound calcium influx and overload with subsequent membrane depolarization and progressive reduction in intracellular calcium transient amplitude, a key determinant of contractile force. This was coupled to activation of signalling pathways commonly associated with cardiac dysfunction in clinical and experimental sepsis and ultimately resulted in depressed cardiomyocyte contractile performance along with rhythm disturbance. Our study proposes a detailed molecular mechanism of pneumococcal toxin-induced cardiac injury and highlights the major translational potential of targeting circulating PLY to protect against cardiac complications during pneumococcal infections.

Concepts: Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, Otitis media, Meningitis


Pneumococcal pneumonia causes significant morbidity and mortality among adults. Given limitations of diagnostic tests for non-bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia, most studies report the incidence of bacteremic or invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), and thus, grossly underestimate the pneumococcal pneumonia burden. We aimed to develop a conceptual and quantitative strategy to estimate the non-bacteremic disease burden among adults with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) using systematic study methods and the availability of a urine antigen assay.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Microbiology, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, Sputum, Haemophilus influenzae


Bacterial septicaemia is a major cause of mortality, but its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. In experimental pneumococcal murine intravenous infection, an initial reduction of bacteria in the blood is followed hours later by a fatal septicaemia. These events represent a population bottleneck driven by efficient clearance of pneumococci by splenic macrophages and neutrophils, but as we show in this study, accompanied by occasional intracellular replication of bacteria that are taken up by a subset of CD169+ splenic macrophages. In this model, proliferation of these sequestered bacteria provides a reservoir for dissemination of pneumococci into the bloodstream, as demonstrated by its prevention using an anti-CD169 monoclonal antibody treatment. Intracellular replication of pneumococci within CD169+ splenic macrophages was also observed in an ex vivo porcine spleen, where the microanatomy is comparable with humans. We also showed that macrolides, which effectively penetrate macrophages, prevented septicaemia, whereas beta-lactams, with inefficient intracellular penetration, failed to prevent dissemination to the blood. Our findings define a shift in our understanding of the pneumococcus from an exclusively extracellular pathogen to one with an intracellular phase. These findings open the door to the development of treatments that target this early, previously unrecognized intracellular phase of bacterial sepsis.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Microbiology, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal infection, Meningitis


For over 130 years, invasive pneumococcal disease has been associated with the presence of extracellular planktonic pneumococci, i.e. diplococci or short chains in affected tissues. Herein, we show that Streptococcus pneumoniae that invade the myocardium instead replicate within cellular vesicles and transition into non-purulent biofilms. Pneumococci within mature cardiac microlesions exhibited salient biofilm features including intrinsic resistance to antibiotic killing and the presence of an extracellular matrix. Dual RNA-seq and subsequent principal component analyses of heart- and blood-isolated pneumococci confirmed the biofilm phenotype in vivo and revealed stark anatomical site-specific differences in virulence gene expression; the latter having major implications on future vaccine antigen selection. Our RNA-seq approach also identified three genomic islands as exclusively expressed in vivo. Deletion of one such island, Region of Diversity 12, resulted in a biofilm-deficient and highly inflammogenic phenotype within the heart; indicating a possible link between the biofilm phenotype and a dampened host-response. We subsequently determined that biofilm pneumococci released greater amounts of the toxin pneumolysin than did planktonic or RD12 deficient pneumococci. This allowed heart-invaded wildtype pneumococci to kill resident cardiac macrophages and subsequently subvert cytokine/chemokine production and neutrophil infiltration into the myocardium. This is the first report for pneumococcal biofilm formation in an invasive disease setting. We show that biofilm pneumococci actively suppress the host response through pneumolysin-mediated immune cell killing. As such, our findings contradict the emerging notion that biofilm pneumococci are passively immunoquiescent.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine


We used whole-genome sequencing to characterize 199 nonvaccine serotype 35B pneumococcal strains that caused invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in the United States during 2015-2016 and related these findings to previous serotype 35B IPD data obtained by Active Bacterial Core surveillance. Penicillin-nonsusceptible 35B IPD increased during post-pneumococcal 7-valent conjugate vaccine years (2001-2009) and increased further after implementation of pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine in 2010. This increase was caused primarily by the 35B/sequence type (ST) 558 lineage. 35B/ST558 and vaccine serotype 9V/ST156 lineages were implicated as cps35B donor and recipient, respectively, for a single capsular switch event that generated emergent 35B/ST156 progeny in 6 states during 2015-2016. Three additional capsular switch 35B variants were identified, 2 of which also involved 35B/ST558 as cps35B donor. Spread of 35B/ST156 is of concern in view of past global predominance of pathogenic ST156 vaccine serotype strains. Protection against serotype 35B should be considered in next-generation pneumococcal vaccines.

Concepts: Microbiology, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal infection, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine, Meningitis