Surfactant protein D enhances phagocytosis and killing of unencapsulated phase variants of Klebsiella pneumoniae

I. Ofek, A. Mesika, M. Kalina, Y. Keisari, R. Podschun, H. Sahly, D. Chang, D. McGregor, E. Crouch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pulmonary surfactant protein D (SP-D) is a collagenous C-type lectin (collectin) that is secreted into the alveoli and distal airways of the lung. We have studied the interactions of SP-D and alveolar macrophages with Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common cause of nosocomial pneumonia. SP-D does not agglutinate encapsulated K. pneumoniae but selectively agglutinates spontaneous, unencapsulated phase variants, such as Klebsiella strain K50-3OF, through interactions with their lipopolysaccharides (LPS). These effects are calcium dependent and inhibited with maltose but not lactose, consistent with involvement of the SP-D carbohydrate recognition domain. Precoating of K50-3OF with SP-D enhances the phagocytosis and killing of these organisms by rat alveolar macrophages in cell culture and stimulates the production of nitric oxide by the NR-8383 rat alveolar macrophage cell line. SP-D similarly enhances the NO response to K50-3OF LPS adsorbed to Latex beads under conditions where soluble LPS or SP-D, or soluble complexes of SP-D and LPS, do not stimulate NO production. Our studies demonstrate that interactions of SP-D with exposed arrays of Klebsiella LPS on a particulate surface can enhance the host defense activities of alveolar macrophages and suggest that activation of macrophages by SP-D requires binding to microorganisms or other particulate ligands. Because unencapsulated phase variants are likely to be responsible for the initial stages of tissue invasion and infection, we speculate that SP-D-mediated agglutination and/or opsonization of K. pneumoniae is an important defense mechanism for this respiratory pathogen in otherwise healthy individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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