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Volume 45, Number 2, April 2012

Increasing opsonizing and killing effect of serum from patients with recurrent K1 Klebsiella pneumoniae liver abscess

Fang-Ching Yeh, Kao-Ming Yeh, L.K. Siu, Chang-Phone Fung, Ya-Sung Yang, Jung-Chung Lin*, Feng-Yee Chang

Received: May 18, 2011    Revised: July 30, 2011    Accepted: August 24, 2011   


Corresponding author:

Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Tri-Service General
Hospital, 325, Section 2, Cheng-Kung Road, Neihu 114, Taipei, Taiwan.
E-mail address: (J.-C. Lin).


Background and purpose: 

Klebsiella pneumoniae liver abscess (KLA) is an emerging infectious disease caused by the virulent K pneumoniae strains of capsular serotype K1 and commonly associated with diabetes mellitus. Recurrent KLA is rarely reported and the mechanism of recurrence is uncertain. In this study we evaluated both phagocytosis by neutrophils and serum killing ability of serum from recurrent K1 KLA patients compared to normal healthy subjects (NHS).



This prospective study included six cases of recurrent K1 KLA consisting of three male and three female patients with a mean age of 67.2 years (range, 56-88 years). The different serotypes of K pneumoniae were reacted with serum from patients with recurrent KLA and NHS. Subsequent phagocytosis by neutrophils was determined using flow cytometry and serum killing assays were performed.



The most common underlying disease in patients with recurrent KLA was diabetes mellitus, occurring in about 83.3% (5/6) of patients. The antibiogram of the strains associated with recurrent KLA remained uniquely resistant to ampicillin. The average percentage derived from the serum killing assays showed serotype K1 and K2 resistance to serum from NHS (1281% and 621%, respectively); however, serum susceptibly was observed in the serum of patients with recurrent K1 KLA (0.3% and 1.1%, respectively). A significant increase in neutrophil phagocytosis of serotype K1 was observed following opsonisation with serum from patients with recurrent KLA compared with serum from NHS (p Z 0.008). No significant difference in the phagocytic rate of non-K1/K2 or K2 serotypes was observed between NHS and patients with recurrent KLA (p Z 0.76 and p Z 0.132, respectively).



These preliminary results showed possible immunologic protection in patients with recurrent KLA due to increasing opsonization and serum killing.


Key words:

K pneumoniae; Liver abscess; Recurrence