JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pathogen-specific antibody profiles in patients with severe systemic infections

N Normann, G Tietz, A Kühn, C Fuchs, V Balau, K Schulz, J Kolata, T Schuerholz, A Petersmann, S Stentzel, L Steil, S O Kuhn, K Meissner, U Völker, M Nauck, I Steinmetz, D Raafat, M Gründling, B M Bröker
European Cells & Materials 2020 April 17, 39: 171-182
32301500
Infections are often caused by pathobionts, endogenous bacteria that belong to the microbiota. Trauma and surgical intervention can allow bacteria to overcome host defences, ultimately leading to sepsis if left untreated. One of the main defence strategies of the immune system is the production of highly specific antibodies. In the present proof-of-concept study, plasma antibodies against 9 major pathogens were measured in sepsis patients, as an example of severe systemic infections. The binding of plasma antibodies to bacterial extracellular proteins was quantified using a semi-automated immunoblot assay. Comparison of the pathogen-specific antibody levels before and after infection showed an increase in plasma IgG in 20 out of 37 tested patients. This host-directed approach extended the results of pathogen-oriented microbiological and PCR diagnostics: a specific antibody response to additional bacteria was frequently observed, indicating unrecognised poly-microbial invasion. This might explain some cases of failed, seemingly targeted antibiotic treatment.

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