Monoclonal antibodies protect from staphylococcal enterotoxin K (SEK) induced toxic shock and sepsis by USA300 staphylococcus aureus

Jorge L. Aguilar, Avanish K. Varshney, Ximo Pechuan, Kaushik Dutta, Joshua D. Nosanchuk, Bettina C. Fries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus is a leading infectious cause of life-threatening disease in humans, yet there is currently no vaccine to combat this bacterium. The pathogenesis of S. aureus is mediated by a diverse array of protein toxins including a large family of secreted pyrogenic superantigens. Neutralization of superantigens, including SEB and TSST-1, has proven to be protective in several animal models of toxic shock and sepsis. We demonstrate, for the first time, that a far more prevalent staphylococcal superantigen, SEK, can also induce lethal shock in mice. Additionally, we describe monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that inhibit SEK-induced mitogenicity as well as protect against SEK-induced lethality, and enhance survival from S. aureus septicemia in murine models. MAb-4G3 (IgG2b), mAb-5G2 (IgG1), and mAb-9H2 (IgG1), all inhibit SEK-induced proliferation and cytokine production of human immune cells. We then demonstrate that passive immunization with a combination of mAb-4G3 and mAb-5G4, 2 mAbs that do not compete for epitope(s) on SEK, significantly enhance survival in a murine model of SEK-induced toxic shock (p = 0.006). In the setting of sepsis, passive immunization with this combination of mAbs also significantly enhances survival in mice after challenge with CA-MRSA strain USA300 (p = 0.03). Furthermore, septic mice that received mAb treatment in conjunction with vancomycin exhibit less morbidity than mice treated with vancomycin alone. Taken together, these findings suggest that the contribution of SEK to S. aureus pathogenesis may be greater than previously appreciated, and that adjunctive therapy with passive immunotherapy against SEs may be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-750
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 26 2017


  • Staphylococcal enterotoxin B
  • Staphylococcal enterotoxin K
  • Toxic shock syndrome toxin 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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