The initial pathogenic step in nonobstructive Escherichia coli pyelonephritis usually involves the binding of a bacterial adhesin with host uroepithelial glycoprotein receptors containing the D-Gal p alpha 1----4 D-Gal p beta 1 (Gal-Gal) moiety. In this study, groups of mice were immunized with Gal-Gal pili and challenged 2 wk later intravesicularly with E. coli strains expressing homologous or heterologous pili. 63 of 129 pili-immunized mice (49%) were protected from subsequent E. coli renal colonization compared with 5 of 85 control mice (6%). Among mice that had E. coli cultured from their right kidney, control mice had greater bacterial colony counts than pili-immunized animals (P less than 0.05). Light microscopic examination of kidneys demonstrated less histopathology among pili immunized mice than among control mice (P less than 0.05). Protection correlated with the presence of specific IgG antibodies in the urine and serum that bind to the major pilin structural polypeptide and not to the Gal-Gal pili tip adhesin per se. These results support the concept that immunization with a bacterial surface-coat constituent can prevent mucosal infection by interfering with colonization. Also Gal-Gal pili of E. coli represent a suitable candidate for immunoprophylaxis against pyelonephritis.
B Pecha, D Low, P O'Hanley