B1b lymphocyte-derived antibodies controlBorrelia hermsiiindependent of Fcα/μ receptor and in the absence of host cell contact

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The critical role of IgM in controlling pathogen burden has been demonstrated in a variety of infection models. In the murine model of Borrelia hermsii infection, IgM is necessary and sufficient for the rapid clearance of bacteremia. Convalescent, but not naïve, B1b cells generate a specific IgM response against B. hermsii, but the mechanism of IgM-mediated protection is unknown. Here, we show that neither Fcα/μR, a high-affinity receptor for IgM, nor IgM-dependent complement activation is required for controlling B. hermsii. Bacteria in diffusion chambers with a pore size impermeable to cells were killed when diffusion chambers were implanted into either convalescent or passively immunized mice. Furthermore, adoptively transferred convalescent B1b cells in Rag1-/- mice produced specific IgM that also cleared B. hermsii in diffusion chambers independent of complement. These results demonstrate that IgM-mediated clearance of B. hermsii does not require opsonophagocytosis and indicate that a mechanism for in vivo B1b cell-mediated protection is through the generation of bactericidal IgM.

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