An experimental septicaemia-peritonitis model was adapted to immunosuppressed mice. The mice were made neutropenic by a sublethal dose of cyclophosphamide, which resulted in a 100-fold increase in their susceptibility to intraperitoneal injection of O18: K1. A lethal infection could be prevented by passive immunisation with anti-K1 capsular or anti-O18 LPS antibodies but not with anti-J5 bacterial antibodies. The anti-K1 and anti-O18 antisera were able to increase the LD50 of the challenge by factors of 50 and 5, respectively. The role of nonspecific, lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-mediated resistance to infection was also investigated in this model, in which only long-living phagocytic cells such as macrophages are believed to be functional. Pretreatment of mice with LPS was shown to prevent growth of the bacterial challenge in the peritoneal cavity and blood and to result in a five-fold increase in the LD50 of the challenge strain. These findings suggest an important role for macrophages as effector cells in defence against infection.


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