We examined bactericidal and opsonizing activity of pooled adult ‘immune’ serum against type b with and without the addition of phagocytes. Four type b strains from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and three such strains from the nasopharynx (NP) of healthy children were examined. Duplicate reaction mixtures contained organisms in exponential (E) or stationary phase (S) of growth, serum, a complement source (human agammaglobulinaemic serum), and culture medium (bactericidal assay); separate assays contained the above components and polymorphonuclear leucocytes (opsonization system). A decrease in bacterial density of ≥ 1 log unit was considered significant. All four S-CSF strains, three of four E-CSF strains and one of three S-NP strains were sensitive to the bactericidal activity of pooled serum. The other E-CSF strain, two S-NP strains and all three E-NP strains were resistant to the bactericidal activity of pooled serum. Two of three E-NP strains were opsonized by pooled serum; the other strains resistant to the bactericidal activity of pooled serum were also resistant to opsonization. Bactericidal and opsonizing activity of serum from an immunized adult was greater than or equal to that of pooled serum against each strain. Assuming normal adults are immune to invasive type b infection, an experimental test reflecting this immunity is the bactericidal activity against CSF isolates tested in stationary phase. We conclude that protection against invasive disease due to type b appears more complex than the presence of bactericidal and opsonizing activity in serum.


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