Lower density and shorter duration of nasopharyngeal carriage by pneumococcal serotype 1 (St217) may explain its increased invasiveness over other serotypes

Laura Bricio-Moreno, Chrispin Chaguza, Reham Yahya, Rebecca K. Shears, Jennifer E. Cornick, Karsten Hokamp, Marie Yang, Daniel R. Neill, Neil French, Jay C.D. Hinton, Dean B. Everett, Aras Kadioglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Streptococcus pneumoniae is a frequent colonizer of the human nasophar-ynx and a major cause of life-threating invasive infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. Over 1 million people die every year due to invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), mainly in developing countries. Serotype 1 is a common cause of IPD; however, unlike other serotypes, it is rarely found in the carrier state in the nasopharynx, which is often considered a prerequisite for disease. The aim of this study was to under-stand this dichotomy. We used murine models of carriage and IPD to characterize the pathogenesis of African serotype 1 (sequence type 217) pneumococcal strains obtained from the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. We found that ST217 pneumococcal strains were highly virulent in a mouse model of invasive pneumonia, but in contrast to the generally accepted assumption, can also successfully establish na-sopharyngeal carriage. Interestingly, we found that cocolonizing serotypes may prolifer-ate in the presence of serotype 1, suggesting that acquisition of serotype 1 carriage could increase the risk of developing IPD by other serotypes. RNA sequencing analysis confirmed that key virulence genes associated with inflammation and tissue invasive-ness were upregulated in serotype 1. These data reveal important new insights into serotype 1 pathogenesis, with implications for carriage potential and risk of invasive disease through interactions with other cocolonizing serotypes, an often-overlooked factor in transmission and disease progression. IMPORTANCE The pneumococcus causes serious diseases such as pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Serotype 1 accounts for the majority of invasive pneumococcal disease cases in sub-Saharan Africa but is rarely found during nasopharyngeal carriage. Understanding the mechanisms lead-ing to nasopharyngeal carriage and invasive disease by this serotype can help reduce its burden on health care systems worldwide. In this study, we also uncovered the potential impact of serotype 1 on disease progression of other coinfecting serotypes, which can have important implications for vaccine efficacy. Understanding the interactions between different serotypes during nasopharyngeal carriage may lead to improved intervention methods and therapies to reduce pneumococcal invasive disease levels.

Original languageBritish English
Article numbere00814-20
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Cocolonization
  • Colonization
  • Gene expression
  • Murine model
  • Nasopharynx
  • Pneumococcus
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory infection
  • Serotype 1


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