The presence of circulating immune complexes (IC) in patients with infective endocarditis has been well documented but the contributions of host and bacterial components to these IC have not been defined. To study this question, IC were isolated from serum of a patient with Streptococcus faecalis endocarditis by differential polyethylene glycol precipitation and competitive binding to staphylococcal protein A. A rabbit antiserum raised against the purified IC had reactivity by crossed immunoelectrophoresis primarily with an antigen derived from the cytoplasm of the infective organism. The antigen was a protein with a 12,000-dalton molecular mass. In situ radiolabeling of the IC bound to the protein A demonstrated a component of the same molecular mass as the bacterial antigen recognized by the antiserum. The patient serum had multiple antibody specificities reactive with bacterial antigens, including the antigen recognized by the rabbit anti-IC antiserum. These techniques for isolation and characterization of circulating IC may have value in the study of IC diseases in which the inciting antigens are not known.
R D Inman, P B Redecha, S J Knechtle, E S Schned, I van de Rijn, C L Christian