Opsono-Adherence Assay to Evaluate Functional Antibodies in Vaccine Development Against Bacillus anthracis and Other Encapsulated Pathogens

* These authors contributed equally
This article has been accepted and is currently in production


The opsono-adherence assay is a functional assay that enumerates the attachment of bacterial pathogens to professional phagocytes. Because adherence is requisite to phagocytosis and killing, the assay is an alternative method to the opsono-phagocytic killing assay. An advantage of this assay is the option of using inactivated pathogens and mammalian cell lines, which allows standardization across multiple experiments. The use of an inactivated pathogen in the assay also facilitates work with biosafety level 3 infectious agents and other virulent pathogens. In our work, the opsono-adherence assay was used to assess the functional ability of antibodies, from sera of animals immunized with an anthrax capsule-based vaccine, to induce adherence of fixed Bacillus anthracis to a mouse macrophage cell line, RAW 264.7. Automated fluorescence microscopy was used to capture images of bacilli adhering to macrophages. Increased adherence was correlated with the presence of anti-capsule antibodies in the serum. Non-human primates that exhibited high serum anti-capsule antibody concentrations were protected from anthrax challenge. Thus, the opsono-adherence assay can be used to elucidate the biological functions of antigen specific antibodies in sera, to evaluate the efficacy of vaccine candidates and other therapeutics, and to serve as a possible correlate of immunity.