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ABSTRACT More than 20% of adults are persistently colonized with Staphylococcus aureus. When hospitalized, these carriers have increased risks of infection with their own strains. However, a recent study demonstrated a lower incidence of bacteremia-related death among carriers than among noncarriers, raising the question whether the adaptive immune system plays a protective role. In fact, S. aureus carriers mount a highly specific neutralizing antibody response against superantigens of their colonizing strains. We now used 2-dimensional immunoblotting to investigate the profiles of antibodies from healthy individuals against S. aureus extracellular proteins. Moreover, we tested whether symptom-free experimental colonization of these individuals with an S. aureus strain of low virulence, 8325-4, is sufficient to induce an antibody response. Sera obtained before and 4 weeks after colonization were screened for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody binding to extracellular staphylococcal proteins. At baseline, most volunteers harbored IgG directed against conserved virulence factors, including alpha-hemolysin (Hla), beta-hemolysin (Hlb), phospholipase C (Plc), staphylococcal serine protease (SspA), and cysteine protease (SspB). However, the variability of spot patterns and intensities was striking and could be important in case of infection. Experimental nasal colonization with S. aureus 8325-4 did not elicit new antibodies or boost the humoral response. Thus, the high antibody prevalence in humans is likely not induced by short-term nasal colonization, and presumably minor infections are required to trigger anti- S. aureus antibody responses.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical and Vaccine Immunology


American Society for Microbiology

Publication Date





1607 - 1614