Staphylococcus aureus is prevalent in surgical site infections (SSI) and leads to death in approximately 1% of patients. Phase IIB/III clinical trial results have demonstrated that vaccination against the iron-regulated surface determinant protein B (IsdB) is associated with an increased mortality rate in patients with SSI. Thus, we hypothesized that S. aureus induces nonneutralizing anti-IsdB antibodies, which facilitate bacterial entry into leukocytes to generate “Trojan horse” leukocytes that disseminate the pathogen. Since hemoglobin (Hb) is the primary target of IsdB, and abundant Hb-haptoglobin (Hb-Hp) complexes in bleeding surgical wounds are normally cleared via CD163-mediated endocytosis by macrophages, we investigated this mechanism in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrate that active and passive IsdB immunization of mice renders them susceptible to sepsis following SSI. We also found that a multimolecular complex containing S. aureus protein A–anti-IsdB–IsdB–Hb-Hp mediates CD163-dependent bacterial internalization of macrophages in vitro. Moreover, IsdB-immunized CD163–/– mice are resistant to sepsis following S. aureus SSI, as are normal healthy mice given anti-CD163–neutralizing antibodies. These genetic and biologic CD163 deficiencies did not exacerbate local infection. Thus, anti-IsdB antibodies are a risk factor for S. aureus sepsis following SSI, and disruption of the multimolecular complex and/or CD163 blockade may intervene.
Kohei Nishitani, Masahiro Ishikawa, Yugo Morita, Noriaki Yokogawa, Chao Xie, Karen L. de Mesy Bentley, Hiromu Ito, Stephen L. Kates, John L. Daiss, Edward M. Schwarz