Comparison of a classical phagocytosis assay and a flow cytometry assay for assessment of the phagocytic capacity of sera from adults vaccinated with a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

Academic Article


  • Antibody- and complement-mediated phagocytosis is the main defense mechanism against Streptococcus pneumoniae. A standardized, easy to perform phagocytosis assay for pneumococci would be a great asset for the evaluation of the potential efficacy of (experimental) pneumococcal vaccines. Such an assay could replace the laborious phagocytosis assay of viable pneumococci (classical killing assay). Therefore, a newly developed phagocytosis assay based on flow cytometry (flow assay) was compared with the conventional killing assay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), using sera obtained from adults pre- and postvaccination with either a bivalent conjugate, a tetravalent conjugate, or the 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine. Highly significant correlations were observed between flow assay phagocytosis titers, killing assay phagocytosis titers, and ELISA antibody titers for serotype 6B and 23F as well. For serotype 19F, strong correlations were only observed between killing assay and ELISA titers. A potential drawback of the flow assay might be the low sensitivity compared with that of the killing assay. The choice of what assay to use, however, will depend on the objectives of the assay. When speed, easy performance, sample throughput, improved worker safety, absence of influence of antibiotics, and absence of false positives are the major criteria, the flow assay is the method of choice. When higher sensitivity is the major requirement, the classical killing assay should be used.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Jansen WTM; Väkeväinen-Anttila M; Käyhty H; Nahm M; Bakker N; Verhoef J; Snippe H; Verheul AFM
  • Start Page

  • 245
  • End Page

  • 250
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 2